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Understanding USPS & Day-old Chicks

If you are new to mail-order poultry and don’t quite understand how mailing chicks works, this is the article for you!

mailing chicks for delivery
Mail-ordering Day-old chicks is fairly commonplace

There is a LOT of misinformation out there among the social media channels frequented by poultry lovers of all types, and it’s not their fault they don’t understand the system. It can be confusing. And what’s more, it can be easy to confuse a known hatchery that sells day-old birds online with someone who isn’t a hatchery, but who also sells day-old birds online.

To begin with, let’s get this out of the way – we’re not offering legal advice or business advice, or anything of that nature – this is just a snapshot of a few of the regulations required by the United States Postal Service for successfully mailing chicks that we hope will put your mind at ease about the process. 

USPS shipping chicks priority mail services

Mailing Chicks: USPS Regulations Simplified

Here are the main facts to bear in mind when you are preparing to order live poultry online and you have concerns about mailing chicks. First and foremost, the US Postal service wants your birds to arrive safely! All postal regulations around live animal shipment are there to ensure that anyone who is expecting live animals to be delivered through the mail can be assured of receiving live animals, not dead ones. These regulations have been developed and established using best practices derived from decades of industry experience. In other words, the regulations have been developed with the good of the chicks as the foremost concern. It’s in everyone’s best interests for live animal shipments to arrive safely!

Secondly, the US Postal Service won’t accept a live animal package that doesn’t follow all of its regulations – these regulations cover everything from the timing of the shipment to the construction of the box. The label has to include “the date and hour of hatching” so any postal worker can see how long the chicks have been in the box. The box itself has to have come directly from the hatching facility and maintain its original seal and be constructed to provide adequate strength and ventilation to ensure survivability of the animals inside. 

Because everyone involved in the process wants the process to succeed, probably the most compelling postal fact is that the US Postal Service will only accept live animal packages that can be delivered within 72 hours of the hatch time. To put it simply, postal regulation ensure that the only packages they even accept for shipping have met standards that have been developed to ensure live arrival. If anything threatens the balance of criteria, then the postal service doesn’t accept the package.

For example, during February of 2021, much of the United States suffered an extended bout of freakish and extended severe cold. The weather was so severe and adverse that USPS refused to accept any live animal shipments for over a week because they couldn’t guarantee a 72-hour delivery anywhere during that time. There was absolutely no mailing chicks during this time.

Mailing Chicks: Prepare For Their Arrival

As a new chick parent, you will also have a part to play in this 72-hour delivery window. Mail-order chicks generally do not arrive at your house with the regular mail. Your post office will call you, sometimes at 5a.m., to let you know your chicks have arrived and tell you where you need to go within the facility to pick them up ASAP. It’s up to you to get to the post office as soon you can and get your chicks into their new warm and toasty home, settled in with some electrolyte water and some chick starter feed. Give their beaks a little dip in the water and they should learn quickly!

I don’t even have to speak to my carrier anymore – the phone rings and when I answer it I hear noisy cheeps, I head for the Post Office! ~ Michelle

The USPS is the only shipper who can carry day-old poultry. They have a web page that outlines the regulations for shipping live animals; feel free to read up on them on your own on their website.  



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