Freshly hatched baby birds in the mailing process for 2-ish days sounds scary, we know it does. Let us explain how it's possible, and how we are able to do this safely. First, we're gonna have to look at the relationship mama hen has with baby chick, and how we're working with evolution.
Mama Hen and Baby Chick
When Mama wants to hatch some chicks. She lays eggs in her nest over the course of days or weeks, and when she as a sufficient amount of eggs under her, she stays put. When each fertile egg or embryo decides it's environment is warm and humid enough, the development timer starts. Here's the thing, not all the eggs are going to start this clock at the same time. Most will be close, but not exactly the same. keep this is mind for later.
Mama sits on her nest religiously. Generally, incubation is 21 days for chickens, so for the purpose of this exercise, we'll run with that number. She's a good Mama, dutifully sitting on her eggs all day and night, except to eat an drink, giving her chicks the best possible environment for their growth. It's been about 19 days, and the chicks have been using their yolk sac as their nutritional source throughout their development. Now, the yolk sac being absorbed into the abdomen over the day 19 and 20, where it will serve almost like a superfood, providing nutrition and hydration for the next 72-ish hours.
Now, remember, those clocks may not have started at the same time, so there's a good change her earlier-laid eggs also would hatch earlier. So maybe, they hatch 1-2 days sooner than the rest. That's where this yolk sac 'superfood' comes into play. This keeps any earlier arrivals sustained while she sits on the rest of the eggs waiting for them to hatch. Yay evolution!
Leveraging Nature's Innovation
Obviously we don't use hens to hatch our chicks, but we are able to use that 72 hour yolk-sac window to get our chicks to you. We use incubators, of course, so all our eggs start that developmental clock at the same time, meaning they generally hatch at the same time.
So, now, we're racing against the clock. We have 72 hours, more or less, to have these chicks to your local post office. We mail them through the United States Postal Service with their Priority Mail, which is expected to take 2 days on average per USPS. Here at Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, we have a geographical advantage that helps expedite the shipping process. We are in the Midwest and very near a major airport; many of our customers see their order next day due to these advantages.
Since that time window is so narrow, we want to spend as little time with these chicks as possible, so hatch days are all hands on deck around here. The faster we get these birds in the mail, the faster they get to you and/or the more buffer time they have with USPS should they miss their truck or their flight (we've all been there).
Now, let us be clear. It's not like 72 hours and 1 minute and the birds are dead; that's not how it works. Firstly, 72 hours is a rule of thumb; realistically, these are animals and are going to have some genetic variation. Secondly, '72 hours', or however long their yolk sac lasts, is how long they can go without food and water. Which means to put it simply, at the end of that window, they need fed and watered promptly.
The health and safety of your birds is always a great concern of ours, so this is also why we don't ship to a handful of states that we have poor postal connections to. Those states would be Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and the Dakotas.
Shipping chicks wouldn't be possible, and certainly would be economical, without this yolk sac reserve. This is why is vital for us to get the chicks in the mail within hours of them being hatched, and why we have such busy hatch days and such happy customers. We're so confident in our process and in our product, we offer a 100% alive and healthy guarantee that reflects our commitment to being 'Home of the Healthiest Chicks'