Adopted Chickens Lay More Humane Eggs

US - As a growing number of urbanites scramble to produce their own farm fresh, organic eggs, animal advocates are urging them to adopt a chicken and not buy the newborn baby chicks from hatcheries.
calendar icon 19 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

United Poultry Concerns, an advocacy group that promotes awareness and humane farming practices, for years has been urging the US Postal Service to stop shipping baby chicks.

The USPS is the only carrier that will still ship the day-old baby chicks, which must arrive at their destination within 72 hours of being hatched, without provisions for food or water.

The practice of shipping the newborns in dark cardboard boxes with no nutrition, they say, is too stressful and simply inhumane to the newborns.

"They are unprotected from weather and rough handling and are treated exactly like airplane luggage - left in compartments with no temperature controls on planes that frequently have layovers and delays," said advocate and UPC president Karen Davis.

Immediately after hatching, the baby chicks are sorted by male and female, loaded into cardboard boxes and shipped out the door, according to

Because males chickens - roosters - don't lay eggs, they're often deemed useless and are either discarded, or sometimes used as packing material in order to fill the box up to capacity.

The minimum 25 chicks per order rule applies at most US hatcheries, because they need each other's body heat to keep warm - at 90 to 95 degrees. Some companies will ship fewer chicks, but advocates say it's no less dangerous.

Hatcheries insist the chicks can survive on nutrition from the yolk sacs but many veterinarians specializing in poultry say that's not true.

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