Decision Maker Response’s response

Sep 7, 2014 — Dear Ms. Maples,

We believe your heart is in the right place, but your petition is not.

First, the petition unfairly characterizes the shipping of baby chicks. The USPS has been safely transporting chicks since the 1800s because chicks are still absorbing their yolk sacs for the first three days of life. That is their food and water. You can learn the biological reason for this, here: -H8.aspx

Our custom-designed, ventilated box is certified for live animal shipment by the USPS and clearly marked, so Postal workers know to treat it with extreme care. These boxes contain special padding and bedding to keep chicks from being jostled, and when necessary include long-lasting heat packs for warmth, among other measures to keep the chicks safe.

Yes—it is true—a very small percentage chicks do not survive, whether they are shipped from our hatchery or any other. But bear in mind that, irrespective of the species, not all babies survive, period. Some chicks are simply weak and will not make it, whether hatched at home or under mother hen. When there are losses in the mail, in most cases all of the other chicks are healthy and strong, indicating that shipping was not to blame, but that the chick was not strong enough to survive, to begin with.

You might also consider the implications for a business with a 100% live arrival guarantee and a high mortality rate. Setting aside that we couldn’t live with ourselves, we wouldn’t have the financial means to stay in business.

Second, would you rather see the 76.5 billion eggs Americans eat each year sourced from backyard flocks, or from factory farms? You know all about the institutionalized cruelty of big agribusiness. Not everyone does, however, so we make every effort to educate our website visitors. A search reveals 45 pages on our website that discuss terrible factory farm conditions:

However, for the benefit of anyone not familiar, here’s a good primer:

By contrast, backyard chickens lead lives like these:

Big ag is probably clapping their hands in glee when folks sign this petition, because they’re the only ones who would benefit from the criminalization of the shipment of baby chicks.

Third, if you’d rather see eggs sourced from backyard flocks than factory farms, where do you suppose folks will get their chickens, if not from mail order hatcheries?

For most people in this country, there is no source for bio-secure pet chickens (chickens tested to be free of serious communicable diseases) other than from the few-and-far-between hatcheries like ours, or else from local feed stores—who receive shipped chicks from hatcheries, too. The truth is that ordering baby chicks from mail order hatcheries is the only viable option for the vast majority of people who want to pamper a backyard flock of their own.

Fourth and finally, among the mail order hatcheries out there, My Pet Chicken is the gold standard in terms of educating customers on chicken care. Our website has by far the most extensive, "how-to" chicken care information you'll find. It is readily accessible and free. We have chicken care experts at the ready to answer phone calls and emails, whether you’re a buying customer or just someone with a question. In fact, we don’t even allow customers to order baby chicks unless they warrant to us that they understand how to care for them. Then, we send four emails in the lead-up to receiving baby chicks with reminders about how to care for chicks, and links to learn more on our website.

No other hatching facility goes anywhere near this far to make sure chicks are going to good homes and to support chicken keepers—and that’s part of our raison d'etre. And yes, we do advise parents to check on their baby chicks before they show them to their children, just in case. Are we to be condemned for this?

We suspect many petitioners are vegans and animal rights activists, and we applaud that. You are needed. Your voices need to be heard. Someone needs to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We consider ourselves your allies. Frankly, we’ll be incredibly satisfied to find ourselves out of the business of selling baby chicks, when the day comes that neighbors are able to share their flocks with neighbors. We will know that we did our job amazingly well.

My Pet Chicken is not some large, faceless corporation. We are a small group of people dedicated to sharing our love and knowledge of chickens with others. While the shipping of baby chicks is not perfect, we are proud to offer a realistic, doable alternative to buying commercially farmed eggs, and to support chicken keepers along their journey. This is undoubtedly an enormous step in the right direction. Given the information presented here, we respectfully ask you to withdraw your petition.

Traci Torres
CEO and co-founder