Shipping Birds
This page was last updated on: January 15, 2010
Sharing your birds with others is one of the most rewarding parts of our hobby.
It's very difficult to ship hatching eggs successfully.
The method that follows is one that we use exclusively, and it works VERY well!
These are the packing materials we use.
The key is the heavy bubble wrap.
We also use heavy carpet padding when the bubble wrap is not available. The padding or bubble wrap is cut into strips so the eggs can be rolled and taped.
We wrap the eggs individually, and place them in the box.
They are packed snug, but not tight. If the box bulges, it'll break the eggs when they are stacked at the post office.
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We clean and mark all our hatching eggs.
We sort for size and conformity, and discard any eggs that are less than perfect.
The eggs on the left are all rejects, notice the different sizes
and colors.
They'll be hard boiled and fed to our birds or go in the fridge for us, it just depends on when they are sorted.
These are the eggs...
...after they have been rolled up in strips of bubble wrap.
We tape them so that they don't unroll.
They are rolled tight, but not too tight. We just don't want them to slide out of the roll during shipping.
The strips of bubble wrap are cut to be about two inches wider than the length of the eggs we are shipping.
This is so there is room between the egg and the sides of the box, and so that the eggs can't bump into each other.
This is a bird shipping box.
We sometimes use these, sometimes we make our own. There are many different types, choose the one that best suits your needs. The key to keeping the birds healthy during shipping is to make sure the box has a tapered top with holes in it. The post office can't stack in all the sides, and it allows for air flow. You should also place an absorbent material in the bottom, we use straw. It keeps the birds dry. Place watermelon rinds (the absolute best choice) or apple slices in the box with them, it'll make the trip easier on them, and it'll give them something to do.
There are different postal regulations for shipping different types and ages of birds.
They are confusing, even to postal employees. I'll post them here for you. I've recently spoken to 3 different postmasters, and everybody has a different translation.
You should speak to the post office worker in your area and see what they think. You can work with them, and come up with an interpretataion that suits the both of you!!! Believe it or not, the post office is VERY flexible about shipping birds and eggs.
I've NEVER had a problem with them, and don't know of anyone who has.
Postal Regulations
Shipping birds for the first time???
There are a few things you should know...
1.) Know what time the truck arrives at your Post Office to pick up the days' mail. Ask your Postmaster, he/she will be happy to tell you. Let them know you are planning to ship live birds, and tell them you'd like to drop them off a 1/2 hour before the truck arrives. Ask if that is time enough to get them ready, and ask for the Express mail label. You can have it filled out before you get there. Have the destination zip code with you, and they will tell you exactly when the birds will arrive at their destination.
2.) Isolate the birds a couple days ahead of time. Watch them closely for any sign of sickness or injury. Sick or injured birds have a much greater risk of dieing in shipment. No one wants you to send them a sick or injured bird either. Make sure the birds have fresh water and feed free-choice, so that they are well fed and watered for the trip.
3.) Know the cost of postage. You don't need a shocker when you get to the Post Office. A couple large birds will cost $35-$40 or better to ship by express mail. You can calculate postage online by clicking the Priority Mail logo at the bottom of this page. Find the Domestic Mail Calculator when you get there.
4.) Write the buyers phone number on the box with a note for the Post Office to call them when the birds arrive. Make it big so they don't miss it. The buyer can pick up the birds, shortening the trip even more.
5.) Be aware that the post office does not insure the birds for live delivery. They only insure the birds if the package does not arrive in the time frame that they quoted you. If they are on time,and dead, it's your responsibility. If they are not on time and dead, the insurance kicks in. If they are not on time and alive, you are entitled to have your shipping costs refunded.
Boxes are available from Horizon Micro-Environments.
I suggest strongly that you read the law below concerning what kind of box you need!!!
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The Easy Chicken
for beginners
This site was constructed by me, Scott Shilala, with help from the poultry hobbyist community, and support from my wonderful wife, Kelly Jo.
Click on the logos for online postage rate calculators.
USPS is great. UPS is a little difficult to navigate, and confusing to use unless you happen to work for UPS.
3.0 Live Animals
3.1 Day-Old Poultry  
Day-old poultry vaccinated with Newcastle disease (live virus) is non-mailable. Live day-old chickens, ducks, geese, partridges, pheasants (mailable only from April through August), guinea fowl, quail and turkeys are acceptable in the mail only if:
a. They are not more than 24 hours old and are presented for mailing in the original unopened hatchery box from the hatchery of origin.
b. The date and hour of hatching is noted on the box by a representative of the hatchery who has personal knowledge thereof. For COD shipments made by a hatchery for the account of others, the name or initials and address of the hatchery must be prominantly shown for this standard.
c. The box is properly ventilated, of proper construction and strength to bear safe transmission in the mail, and not stacked more than 10 units high.
d. They are mailed early enough in the week to avoid receipt at the post office of address, in case of missed connections, on a Sunday, on a national holiday, or on the afternoon before a Sunday or holiday.
e. They can be delivered to the addressee within 72 hours of the time of hatching, whether the addressee resides in town or on a rural route or highway contract route.
f. (01-10-99) The shipment bears special handing postage in addition to regular postage, unless sent at the first class mail or priority mail rate.
g. If live day-old poultry is to be transported by aircraft, all provisions of the airline tariffs are met and air carriers have equipment available to safely deliver shipments within the specified time limits, allowing for delays enroute in air and ground transportation.
h. Day-old poultry, originally shipped by air express or air cargo and then presented for mailing, must be in first-class condition and prepared as specified in 3.1a through 3.1e.
i. Boxes of day-old poultry of about the identical size securely fastened together to prevent seperation in transit, may be accepted for mailing as a single parcel, if such parcel is not more than 100 inches in length and girth combined.
3.3 Adult Fowl
Adult turkeys, guinea fowl, doves, pigeons, pheasants, partridge and quail, as well as ducks, geese, and swans sent by Express Mail in biologically secure containers approved by Business Mail Acceptance Manager, USPS Headquarters, are mailable if the number of birds per parcel follows the container manufacturer limits, and if each bird weighs more than six ounces. Under the applicable standards, indemnity may be paid only for loss, damage or rifling, and not for death of the birds in transit if there is no visible damage to the mailing container.
3.4 Chickens
(04-09-98) Adult Chickens may be sent by Express Mail. The Express mail containers used must pass the standards in International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Test Procedure 1A (detailed in publication 2, Packaging for mailing); be designed to remain intact during normal handling,; be constructed to totally confine the chickens; contain shavings or other material to prevent damage to the bottom of the container; and be ventilated properly to insure humane treatment in transit.
The number of birds in each parcel must not exceed the container manufacturer's limit. Under the applicable standards, indemnity may be paid only for loss, damage or rifling, and not for death of the chickens if tere is no visible damage to the container. Mailing of chickens for fighting is subject to 7 USC 2156.