Due to the hot summer and the number of "horror" stories of shipped birds I've seen this season, I would like to go over, in detail, how I ship and why. I will also mention some of what I call "THE COMMON SENSE" details when it comes to shipping live birds that a lot of people fail to take into consideration.
When people ask if I will ship ducklings, the answer is always "yes". But, there are rules that I have created to ensure a safe transport and quick delivery to prevent any shipping mishaps.
1. Depending on the outside temperature, I ship in orders of 6-8 or more ONLY. Many people ask if I can ship 2 or 3 and the answer is no. Not even with a heat pack. I simply refuse because they need a group of buddies in order to stay warm. They always ship better depending on the size, in larger groups. I WILL NOT ship if it's above 80* here or there (their final destination). Yes, they do fare very well in the heat, but chances of them getting overheated or left in the back of a truck are higher in those temps and not worth the risk. These are LIVES we are handling and they need to be treated as such! And I will not ship if it's below 40* on either end. I personally do not like to be cold and hate seeing ducklings shiver. They usually do fine especially if traveling in a large group, but we all know that those left on the outside of the group get shafted and it's not fair to them. So please do not argue with me if I refuse to ship to you under these conditions.
2. If you are in a location that does not allow 2 day delivery for priority mail, then I will ONLY ship them express. Keep in mind that this still doesn't ensure they will get to you in 2 days. But chances are they will get to you faster than if sent priority. When I send 2 day priority, they usually (not always) get there the next day. Same with express. But it's not worth the lives and suffering of baby birds to send them 3 day priority simply to save a little money. I realize that express is a lot more expensive than priority, but if you want to save money on shipping then I suggest you buy locally!
3. I ALWAYS ship with food. I do not put water in the box as it creates a mess. I make my own containers out of water bottles and zip tie them to the inside of the box. I freeze watermelon and cucumber and then put them in the box on the day of shipping. This gives them a source of hydration during shipment but in a way that doesn't make a mess of the box (they do a good job of that themselves!). Most people will find that even if they arrive in less than 24 hours, most or all of this food will be gone. Which tells me that they felt the need to have it. I wouldn't want to be deprived of water or food for 24 hours, so I don't expect them to!
4. The truck at my post office doesn't leave until 2-3 in the afternoon. So instead of boxing them up and dropping them off for 8 or 9 am, I keep them in the brooder or coop until 12-1 pm and then box them and take them in. The less time in the box, the better off they are!
5. I can and do ship day olds (as I'm sure most of you have read they use the yolk to sustain themselves for 1-2 days after hatching). However, I have found that they do much better if kept here for a few days (this also gives me some extra time to ensure everyone is eating, drinking, and acting 100% healthy and normal). I start them on starter and fruits/veggies (so they know what to eat when in the box) and keep a close eye on them. This allows them to get a little stronger each day they stay with me before making a stressful trip to a new home (any change in environment is stressful to them. Stress is much easier for older birds to cope with than new hatchlings). So the stronger they are for shipping, the better!
6. I NEVER overcrowd! Overcrowding can lead to many demises. It can cause some to get stepped on or squashed (especially if shipping birds of different sizes/ages), it can cause suffocation, or even balding and rub marks as well as heat exhaustion if it's warm. There is no reason to over crowd them. Boxes are made to handle a certain amount of weight. If used properly, the only way to exceed that limit is by putting too many birds in one box. So if you want 10 ducklings, but want to wait for them to get to the juvie stage, I can send you 10 but it will certainly not be in one box! A good example is this, I can fit 12 day old (10 if one week old) ducklings in a duckling box. Due to the size of the box, it cannot be used for anything over 3 weeks old. Those same ducklings, around week 8, would be so big that I would need an adult box. And by then, to keep them from being over crowded and to keep my limit from going over, I would only be able to fit 2, MAYBE 3 in one box.
Basically the same above applies to adults and juvies that I ship. All the same rules and "regulations" that I have in place to ensure a safe travel and delivery for your bird(s). Adults travel very well and can be shipped in colder weather. Though again, I won't ship if below 40* as it is unfair to them to be left in the back of a cold truck. They likely won't get cold as they can keep themselves warm even in temperatures below zero, but it's not worth exposing them to frostbite or a simply u