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How to transport live chickens over long distances

Updated September 05, 2018

Whether the chickens are being transported for their egg-laying qualities, for slaughter or as pets to live on a farm, the most important consideration is transporting them humanely. Failing to do so is downright unjust, and may also cause birds to arrive at their destination injured, sick or even dead. Transporting chicken over long distances can be very stressful for the birds, but that can be reduced by taking precautions. Whether you are planning to ship day-old baby chicks or transport adult chicken, you must have the right equipment to heighten the chances for an uneventful journey.

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  1. Inform the receiver about the date you are planning to ship the baby chicks so they can make arrangements with their post office. Baby chicks should be shipped on a Monday and should arrive to their destination within three days. Baby chicks are mostly shipped through priority mail or express mail.

  2. Fill up the baby chick shipping box with some good quality alfalfa or grass hay. This will ensure good footing and will successfully absorb droppings. You may place a heat pack under the hay in case you will be shipping during cold weather.

  3. Place the day-old baby chicks in the box. To ensure warmth, you may have to ship a minimum of 15 to 25 chicks at once. This may vary though depending on the weather. Hatcheries like to add in one or two extra chicks to make up for any losses during travel.

  4. Attach to the box instructions on how to care for the baby chicks once they arrive home. Many chicks do not make it the first days because the new owners fail to feed and hydrate the chicks properly or are unable to provide them with the right temperature. Some chicks develop ''pasty butt'' from the stress and may not survive unless cleaned up properly.

  5. Use appropriately sized plastic crates with good airflow. Calculate that each bird must be able to sit comfortably in the crate, and chicken should not be sitting on top of each other. Good transport chicken crates must come equipped with water and food storage accessories.

  6. Provide food and water to the birds before placing them in the coop to be transported. This will ensure they leave well hydrated and fed. Even though food and water will be provided in the crates, there are chances that feeling stressed may cause them to refuse to eat and drink.

  7. Fill up the water and food storage containers, and gently place the chicken in the plastic crates. Some crates are made in such a way that they can be stacked on top of each other. Load the truck with the crates and make sure the chicken are protected from wind, high and low temperatures and inclement weather. The chickens may now start their journey.

  8. Tip

    Day-old chicks do not need to be shipped with food or water because they are still ingesting their yolk. Always clean the crates well before placing the chicken in them. Make sure the crates have sufficient height to allow the chickens to stand. Birds should be routinely checked during the journey. Transportation of adult chicken should not exceed 12 hours.


    Only ship day-old baby chicks. Never ship or transport sick, weak or injured birds. Avoid mixing different poultry species in a crate. Do not carry poultry by their head, neck, wings or tail. Refrain from the temptation of transporting chicken in the boot of your car.

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Things You'll Need

  • USPS-approved baby-chick shipping boxes
  • Alfalfa or grass hay
  • Heat packs
  • Chick-care instructions
  • Plastic crates
  • Food and water containers
  • Truck

About the Author

Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.

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