Ever Wondered how to Ship?

Have you thought about shipping Hatching Eggs, Chicks or Juvenile/adult birds?

We have seen many inaccurate shipping how to guides and decided it was finally time to get one guide together that covers eggs, chicks, and juveniles/adults as well as including USPS Policies, the Law and more!



There are many right and even more wrong ways to ship chicks and we hope to get you our opinion on the best and worst methods we have seen and experienced over our years within the poultry shipping business.

Murray McMurray Hatchery

Murray McMurray Hatchery

One of the first things to know is that chicks DO NOT require a set box to be shipped in. No approval for that box is required by USPS and many hatcheries and shippers have over the years developed a number of different styles. The box you see above is a perfect example of what NOT to do. The box you see on the left from a National hatchery is much more what you should expect to see and/or use.

The absolute number one and best thing you need to be able to ship, and receive, chicks safely is Common Sense. You need to always refer to this when making decisions about shipping. Many factors come in to shipping including but not limited to weather, travel delays, natural disasters, accidents, USPS, national holidays…


All of these needed to be taken into account. We have found the best day to ship is always on a Tuesday. Try at all times to avoid National Holidays - mail can get delayed and stuck very easily and remember you are dealing with LIVE ANIMALS.

You have to remember that USPS is not set up for shipping live animals - they are set up to move bulk mail as quickly as possible using automated machinery to get your item from A to B in as quick a time as possible. These machines don’t care whats in the box and they could go through numerous automated systems, drops etc before reaching the destination. Pack Accordingly.


Always ensure your box has adequate warmth - is a heat pack needed? Ensure you have enough babies in the box - why? the more that box moves the more they get rattled around in shipment.

Check the weather - is it going to be too hot or too cold to ship? Many hatcheries will send chicks to their death each and every year when a small check of the weather could easily avoid such problem. Do not think of profit over life.

If you are ever in doubt - WAIT. DO NOT SHIP. Be a responsible shipper - not a careless one.



When shipping ANYTHING it’s important to remember that USPS isn’t the only company that handles your mail. They don’t own any planes… Most mail will get handed off to Fedex for them to fly it from near you, to near destination. Why is this important? Because all the time your mail is in the hands of Fedex it IS NOT trackable. You will find in most cases a couple of scans at shipment including being scanned out of your local sorting office. At this point its handed to Fedex who then move it to destination. Then you’ll get another scan when Fedex hand the shipment back to USPS.

In our example on the left hand side after the Item was scanned in Ybor City the next scan ‘In transit to Next facility’ is when the package would be in the hands of Fedex etc. It is then handed back to USPS in Grand Rapids and regular scans would continue.

tracking2 copy.jpg

What if you haven’t had any scans? Well… Mistakes can happen that mean the item won’t be ‘tracked’ or scanned again until it is handed back to USPS. So if the item gets ‘missed’ when placed into a bin or it gets placed into the wrong bin it won’t get scanned again until it is individually handled.

In the example to your right, you will see a Priority Mail Express shipment that was shipped from us here at Pixies Poultry & Pigs to a customer in Bessemer AL.

The initial scan shows acceptance as late in the day as 7.21pm - why? Because we have made contact with our USPS office at the Tampa airport. They will accept Business mail for shipping up to 8pm. This means - much less travel time for the birds, no time in Florida in a huge, hot truck, and less time being bashed around in the hands of USPS.

It means we here at Pixies Poultry & Pigs go out of our way to get your birds to the airport later in the day, and onto a flight much quicker.

Now this shipment was only going a small distance but as you can see it was less than 16 hours from drop off to collection!


A little known fact - if you use the USPS website to print your shipping labels, as well as receiving a discount, the ‘hold for pickup’ option is available and the address for the closest USPS office is automatically on the label! I have never heard USPS claim they couldn’t find their own office when delivering mail.

As you can see from the example to the left. This label was printed using USPS online shipping methods. The wording ‘HOLD FOR PICKUP’ is clearly on the label, and the printed address would be the local Post Office.



So you can of course go and stand in a long line at your local post office, waste two hours of your day, get to the front of the line and fill in all the labels etc by hand and pay full price… Or you can do it online - save time and in some cases not even type out anything! Did you receive your payment through Paypal? If so just log into your paypal account, find the payment received and ship from there. Print the label - stick it to the box and done. You can, alternatively, go onto and then use the click and ship option. If you do print your label online, its incredibly important to make sure the package is scanned at the post office :)

You can ship chicks using two main methods - Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. Now before anyone gets upset and complains - It is perfectly acceptable under USPS terms and conditions to ship day old chicks using Priority Mail. The delivery timescale guarantee of attempting delivery within 3 days is exactly the same no matter which method you use when shipping DAY OLD chicks.

Priority Mail

Priority Mail generally takes anywhere between 1 and 3 days - the label printed out and given to you is an EXPECTED delivery timescale. This is NOT a guarantee and should they get lost or arrive late you will usually not receive any refund.

Priority Mail is automatically insured for $50.

Priority Mail is handled ‘second’ in the priority list - with Priority Mail Express being dealt with first.

Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail Express takes 1-2 days. The Label printed out and given to you will show a ‘guaranteed’ delivery timescale. HOWEVER - You are shipping Live animals and this timescale is NOT applicable to you. The guaranteed timescale is to attempt delivery within 3 days.

Priority Mail Express is automatically insured for $100.

Should either of these result in dead chicks - you can make a claim against the insurance with USPS. It is OUR experience that USPS will usually only pay out when the package has been delayed or lost. They do not usually pay out when chicks die and the package was delivered ‘on time’.

What are the rules / the Law regarding shipping???


There are a number of Laws that are in place regarding shipping of Poultry. The main rule of thumb is that ANY poultry that crosses state lines requires some form of paperwork for it to be ‘legal’. Now I am sure you, like us, are fully aware that people ship against various rules, or against the Law. Just because they do - doesn’t mean you should.

NPIP - National Poultry Improvement Plan is a program that was put in place nationally to allow traceability should any illness/disease occur. It is important to remember that NPIP is not there to tell you the seller is clean from any and all diseases. There are many things tat could cause illness in a flock and NPIP only tests for no more than a handful. However its a basic program that allows for traceability should a flock be sick - it allows the State/Federal officials to go through all paperwork to be able to trace any and all people that a possibly infected flock has been sold to.

Clemson University has, over the years, put together some really awesome pages and downloads of information. A couple of snippets are shown here. You can download the Federal Intrastate Movement Traceability Rule from the Clemson website. Whilst it talks about South Carolina (The university location), the Federal law covers all states.


NPIP is a basic program with minimum requirements in all states, and it’s important to know that many states add additional rules to it’s program depending on outside factors, costs involved etc. These can range from additional testing, more stringent rules etc and it’s important to contact your own state office before shipping.

Many states now use the online facility Poultry Improvement. This site contains a ton of up to date information that relates to each individual state. It also allows you to keep up to date with what is happening as well as complete and print your very own VS9-3 NPIP form for shipping.

Once you have become an NPIP participant through your state (contact information is on the above website), you can then use the online from - Right hand side NPIP Database.


This form allows you to fill in, complete and apply for a VS9-3 form for each shipment. From this site you can email the form directly to the recipient. As well as this you can print a copy that can, and is required to be, place with the shipment in case of inspection.


Essentially pretty much anything can go wrong. It’s always good to know from both a buying and selling perspective what could happen.

However it is also important to remember that you are buying a Live Animal. You’re not buying a boxed item from Amazon or a pair of sneakers from China that can easily be replaced. You’re relying on many factors to get chicks from A to B.

As a buyer you’re hoping the everything goes right.