23 August 2020

Chicks in a box

Birds and the U.S. Postal Service:
What Do We Learn From the Current Tragedy?

An excellent report by Animals 24-7, Birds in the mail: U.S. Postal Service changes kill thousands, Aug. 22, shows how the current back-up of mail delivery relates to the overall history and horribleness of shipping birds and other animals as “perishable matter” through the U.S. Postal Service both on the ground and as airmail.

This morning I submitted the following comment for posting later today to the Animals 24-7 website. – Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns:

Thank you Animals 24-7 for this informative coverage of the more than century-long legal transport of live chickens and many other birds and small animals through the US Postal Service. As you report, chicks die “quietly” in postal service deliveries all the time and often, for one reason or other, a box of chicks will sit in a local Post Office and never be picked up by the purchaser. Farm enterprises that promote themselves as small and “local” tend to purchase their chicks entirely through the mail, and they lobby Congress, successfully, to ensure continuation of this practice. In addition, male chicks the hatchery industry calls “packers” are frequently used as packaging material inside boxes of baby hens, known as pullets.

Since most backyard chicken-keepers and small-farm poultry operators do not want roosters, the hatcheries will destroy the newborns, known as cockerels, as soon as they hatch. Cockerels, other than those used for cockfighting, breeding, and meat production, who, notwithstanding, are in the millions, have no financial value for the hatcheries, so there is no expense shipping them as “packers.”

Roosters are the most tragic victims of the backyard chicken-keeping trend. People order female chicks, usually for the eggs, only to discover after 5 months that one, two, or three of the “hens” are roosters. They either don’t want roosters or, in virtually all suburban locales, roosters are banned, so the roosters are abandoned, turned into animal shelters, and who knows what else. Sanctuaries receive pleas from the more responsible dupes of the hatchery business to please adopt or find a home for the unwanted roosters. Sadly, there are many more roosters than there are good homes and sanctuaries to adopt them.

Shipment of live birds and other animals through the Postal Service and as airmail is one of the many, largely hidden evils of the commodification of these creatures. School-hatching projects, 4-H, cockfighters, backyard chicken-keepers – all are responsible for the everlasting misery and abuse of these innocent and defenseless individuals – most of whom are being shipped to people and enterprises that will make them suffer unspeakably until they mercifully are dead.

To learn more, visit:

— Backyard Chicken–Keeping

— Cockfighting