24 February 2021

A Ban on Mail Order Chicks?

New York legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit shipping live animals within the state. Modern Farmer, Feb. 22, 2021

Chicks in a box

A Ban on Mail Order Chicks?” in Modern Farmer looks at how farmers and postal service workers view legislation that would ban shipments of baby chicks and other small animals through the U.S. Postal Service. The article includes the viewpoint of UPC President Karen Davis:

“The fact that they [newborn chicks] cannot starve to death and die of dehydration in a 72-hour period does not make it humane,” says Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns, an animal rights organization that focuses on poultry. She raises the point that because hatchery chicks are incubated en masse—and do hatch at different times—a chick that’s part of the “Monday” group didn’t necessarily hatch on Monday morning. “Seventy-two hours from when? When they’re put in shipping boxes or when they’re taken to a truck?” she says. If they have to be shipped at all, Davis would like to see chicks reach their final destination within 24 hours of hatching, although she doesn’t see an easy way to enforce it. There doesn’t seem to be any scientific research on how far apart chicks actually hatch on average under a hen and, therefore, how long chicks usually go without food or water after hatching in nature.

[The Chicken Book by Page Smith & Charles Daniel, pp. 321-322: ”Assuming this particular chick of whom we have been talking is the first born, it has to stand by for as much as two more days while its brothers and sisters struggle out of their shells. . . . By the time all the eggs have hatched, those that were born first may have been without food or water for almost two days.” – UPC Editor]


It’s clear that many farmers and backyard chicken keepers want the shipment of day-old chicks to continue. And, other than this summer, it’s not an issue that’s gotten a lot of attention even among the animal welfare community. “There’s so much to attend to as far as farmed animals are concerned,” Davis says. “You can go into a factory farm and videotape and document what’s going on there and show it on the internet, but you can’t really do that when the birds are in a cargo area of an airplane.” And other than dying on the way to their destinations, chicks don’t have a lot of ways to communicate how they feel about the experience of being shipped in the mail in a cardboard box. The wisdom thus far has seemed to be: As long as they arrive alive, the system is working.

Following the article, Karen Davis posted the following comment:

Thank you for this informative though depressing article. Nothing changes the fact that chickens evolved in Nature to hatch under a mother hen’s wings and be carefully cared for by her. The expectation of a mother hen is inscribed in the chicken’s genes and the lack of her is felt by the chicks even when they are embryos inside the eggs. Does anyone wonder how the chicks feel being flown far above the earth, how this experience could affect their delicate eardrums, and so much more.

Animal advocates are often dismissed by animal exploiters as “anthropomorphic,” but the real anthropomorphism is practiced by those who force chickens and other animals to fit unnaturally into human constructs for which they are not suited. I hope the New York bill passes into enforceable law – a law that should cover all states through interstate commerce legislation. Until then, the needless animal suffering and superficial criteria for “welfare” will drearily continue. - Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns.

What Can I Do?

To learn about NYS Assembly Bill A4611, which seeks to prohibit “the shipment of certain live animals by postal mail into, within, or to points outside of the state of New York and provides for a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars per violation,” see Assembly Bill A4611. This site includes a link to locate and contact your New York State Assembly Member/Senator in support of the proposed legislation. If you are a New York State resident, please express your support.

For more information on this topic, see

Thank You Taking Action!
United Poultry Concerns