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Ever Wondered how to Ship?

Have you thought about shipping Hatching Eggs, Chicks or Juvenile/adult birds?

We have seen many inaccurate shipping how to guides and decided it was finally time to get one guide together that covers eggs, chicks, and juveniles/adults as well as including USPS Policies, the Law and more!

Hatching Eggs:

You’ll need a method to wrap eggs and keep them safe.

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There is no ‘right and wrong’ way to wrap and ship eggs. Lots of people use completely different methods from Bubble pouches, to wrapping paper to shavings, to foam egg shippers. You need to find out what works for YOU! Order eggs from 3 or 4 different people. Have a look at the methods they use and see which of them may work for you. We here at Pixies Poultry & Pigs LLC use bubble pouches where you can wrap and insulate the egg. This was suggested to us by a customer and it’s a method that since adoption has had over a 99% success rate in getting eggs to destination without damage.

We ‘double box’ our hatching eggs, a method we tested over time by buying some eggs at the store, packaging them up in different ways and then dropping them 4-5 feet from the ground onto both soft and hard surfaces to see which works best.

You have to remember that USPS is not set up for shipping eggs - they are set up to move bulk mail as quickly as possible using automated machinery to get your item from A to B in as quick a time as possible. These machines don’t care whats in the box and they go through numerous automated systems, drops etc before reaching the destination. Pack Accordingly.

Many shippers will place stickers or writing on the box signifying ‘fragile/warning/handle with care’ etc. We personally do not (unless requested). Machines don’t read these labels and neither does Fedex (More about them later). The people you actually see at USPS generally handle your mail with care - why alert them to something? We haven’t found any increase in damage to shipments when boxes have not been labeled.

You always want to ship the freshest eggs you can, trying not to ship in extreme heat or freezing conditions. From Brooksville, Florida our shipments go to Tampa, then on to Memphis before being flown closer to their final destination. ASK ASK ASK what route your shipments are likely to take. Why? Because once you know the hubs that your mail goes through then you can predict and guess where your shipment is more likely to ‘get stuck’ or miss a flight. This is important to know. For Example - if I have a shipment that may get stuck in Memphis and it is currently 80 degrees here, 75 at destination but 100 in Memphis - it’s probably a good idea to wait.

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When shipping ANYTHING it’s important to remember that USPS isn’t the only company that handles your mail. They don’t own any planes… Most mail will get handed off to Fedex for them to fly it from near you, to near destination. Why is this important? Because all the time your mail is in the hands of Fedex it IS NOT trackable. You will find in most cases a couple of scans at shipment including being scanned out of your local sorting office. At this point its handed to Fedex who then move it to destination. Then you’ll get another scan when Fedex hand the shipment back to USPS.

In our example on the right hand side after the Item was scanned in Ybor City the next scan ‘In transit to Next facility’ is when the package would be in the hands of Fedex etc. It is then handed back to USPS in Grand Rapids and regular scans would continue.

What if you haven’t had any scans? Well… Mail is sorted into large ‘bins’. Each mail item is scanned into that bin. From then on only the bin is scanned until it gets sorted at the destination. So if the item gets ‘missed’ when placed into a bin or it gets placed into the wrong bin it won’t get scanned again until it is individually handled.

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In our opinion its important to ALWAYS mark Hatching Egg shipments ‘hold for pickup’. A little known fact - if you use the USPS website to print your shipping labels, as well as receiving a discount, the ‘hold for pickup’ option is available and the address for the closest USPS office is automatically on the label! I have never heard USPS claim they couldn’t find their own office when delivering mail.

As you can see from the example to the left. This label was printed using USPS online shipping methods. The wording ‘HOLD FOR PICKUP’ is clearly on the label, and the printed address would be the local Post Office.

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What is INFORMED DELIVERY?

Informed Delivery is a completely FREE and new system for USPS. After you go through the USPS website and sign up you will get daily emails from USPS. Within these emails you get scanned images of the mail that is currently making it’s way to you!!

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So are you waiting for that extremely important batch of eggs? Worried about where they are? Tracking isn’t working? Well I am sure this system isn’t perfect either, however what you get with Informed Delivery is a physical scanned image of the mail that is on the way.

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SHIPPING METHODS

So you can of course go and stand in a long line at your local post office, waste two hours of your day, get to the front of the line and fill in all the labels etc by hand and pay full price… Or you can do it online - save time and in some cases not even type out anything! Did you receive your payment through Paypal? If so just log into your paypal account, find the payment received and ship from there. Print the label - stick it to the box and done. You can, alternatively, go onto USPS.com and then use the click and ship option. If you do print your label online, its incredibly important to make sure the package is scanned at the post office :)

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You can ship eggs using a variety of methods - Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express are the most common and we’ll explain each of those here.

Priority Mail

Priority Mail generally takes anywhere between 1 and 3 days - the label printed out and given to you is an EXPECTED delivery timescale. This is NOT a guarantee and should they get lost or arrive late you will usually not receive any refund.

Priority Mail is automatically insured for $50. Therefore if you sold eggs for $75 and charged $20 in shipping and they get broken and damaged by USPS the most you will be refunded is $50 and you will be losing $45.

Priority Mail is handled ‘second’ in the priority list - with Priority Mail Express being dealt with first.

There are both weighted and ‘flat rate’ options with Priority Mail.

Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail Express takes 1-2 days. The Label printed out and given to you is a GUARANTEED delivery timescale. Should the package not meet this Guarantee you WILL be given a full refund of your shipping cost.

Priority Mail Express is automatically insured for $100. Therefore if you sold eggs for $75 and charged $40 in shipping and they get lost and damaged by USPS you will be refunded the full shipping cost and the $75 sale price and therefore lose nothing.

Priority Mail Express is handled a lot less than Priority Mail and is subject to less machine handling.

What are the rules / the Law regarding shipping???

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There are a number of Laws that are in place regarding shipping of Poultry. The main rule of thumb is that ANY poultry that crosses state lines requires some form of paperwork for it to be ‘legal’. Now I am sure you, like us, are fully aware that people ship against various rules, or against the Law. Just because they do - doesn’t mean you should.

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NPIP - National Poultry Improvement Plan is a program that was put in place nationally to allow traceability should any illness/disease occur. It is important to remember that NPIP is not there to tell you the seller is clean from any and all diseases. There are many things tat could cause illness in a flock and NPIP only tests for no more than a handful. However its a basic program that allows for traceability should a flock be sick - it allows the State/Federal officials to go through all paperwork to be able to trace any and all people that a possibly infected flock has been sold to.

Clemson University has, over the years, put together some really awesome pages and downloads of information. A couple of snippets are shown here. You can download the Federal Intrastate Movement Traceability Rule from the Clemson website. Whilst it talks about South Carolina (The university location), the Federal law covers all states.

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NPIP is a basic program with minimum requirements in all states, and it’s important to know that many states add additional rules to it’s program depending on outside factors, costs involved etc. These can range from additional testing, more stringent rules etc and it’s important to contact your own state office before shipping.

Many states now use the online facility Poultry Improvement. This site contains a ton of up to date information that relates to each individual state. It also allows you to keep up to date with what is happening as well as complete and print your very own VS9-3 NPIP form for shipping.

Once you have become an NPIP participant through your state (contact information is on the above website), you can then use the online from - Right hand side NPIP Database.

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This form allows you to fill in, complete and apply for a VS9-3 form for each shipment. From this site you can email the form directly to the recipient. As well as this you can print a copy that can, and is required to be, place with the shipment in case of inspection.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG???

Essentially pretty much anything can go wrong. It’s always good to know from both a buying and selling perspective what could happen.

However it is also important to remember that you are buying a Live Animal product. You’re not buying a boxed item from Amazon or a pair of sneakers from China that can easily be replaced. You’re relying on many factors to get eggs from A to B in good condition as well as to get them to hatch. Just because they do not develop or hatch DOES NOT mean they were not fertile. You are buying eggs that have been laid by a female chicken who is in with a male chicken. You’re essentially hoping the male has done his job. NO ONE can guarantee fertile eggs - IT IS NOT POSSIBLE. NO BREEDER - THATS RIGHT NONE gets 100% fertility. It just doesn’t happen. The male could have off days, some eggs may not be fertile, USPS could damage them, Incubator temps, humidity, air - ANYTHING can stop an egg developing.

You’re gambling when both buying and selling eggs. As a seller you’re telling the buyer you have given them the best chance you possibly can to hatch from these eggs.

As a buyer you’re hoping the everything goes right.

If you are not prepared to take these risks - then the purchase of hatching eggs or the sale of hatching eggs just isn’t for you.

The only guarantee we make is that each area has now more than 3 females to a male. That’s it.

Some breeders will have a lower, some a higher ratio. Some will have 5 areas, some 50. If you want to know - Just ask the breeder. However I know from our perspective I won’t advertise how many birds we own for security reasons.