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Is it Safe to Mail Order Chicks?

When I got back into chickens a few years ago, I started in the fall. Our local farm supply store didn’t carry chicks in the fall, so I mail ordered our babies! At first, I was a little hesitant to do that. I had a lot of questions such as, “How on earth do they stay alive? Will they be weak and listless by the time they get here? Will it be too cold for them?” And the list went on. However, after safely ordering chicks through the mail a couple of times, I am here to tell you that most chicks do just fine! The hatcheries I’ve worked with take special care to keep your chicks as safe as possible. Here’s a few common questions I get asked that I’ll answer about mail ordering chicks.

Will My Chicks Starve to Death?

No. When chicks are born out of their egg, they eat the yolk sac for their nutrition and strength. Chicks can survive up to 72 hours without food or water immediately after hatching. When we’ve hatched our own chicks, it’s usually a day or two before they eat or drink much of anything. Hatcheries will sometimes provide a green gel that the chicks can peck at to keep them hydrated.

Will My Chicks Freeze to Death?

Most hatcheries have a minimum on their chick orders for this reason. You have to have a certain amount so the chicks keep each other warm. Hatcheries will also have time frames that they ship in different parts of the country. For example, a hatchery would not ship to Minnesota in the middle of winter because it’s too cold.

Who Ships Chicks?

Currently, the USPS is the only entity that ships chicks in the mail. Our post office is excellent about getting our chicks! I always make sure I touch base with them before I order to ensure that I’ll be able to get to the chicks right away. It’s extremely important to get your chicks into their brooder right away as well as getting them to eat and drink. Our post office let me come in before they even opened to the public, so I could grab my sweet babies. Make sure you communicate with your post office on these things!

Other Tips:

  1. Make sure you have your brooder set up and the temp where it needs to be BEFORE the chicks arrive. Click here to learn how to set up a brooder.

  2. Make sure you have plenty of chick feed and water as well as the appropriate container sizes for their arrival.

  3. The Baby Chick Care Kit will give your chicks everything they need to get off to the right start! Riding to their new home in the mail can be a bit stressful for the chicks. The Baby Chick Care Kit helps with reducing this stress!

  4. I know they’re adorable and seem so cuddly but give your chickens 24 hours to adjust to their new environment and home before you start handling them.

  5. When you order chicks through the mail, you can basically pick your favorites but do your research on each breed first!

Mail ordering chicks has been happening for many years. I have only had one chick who didn’t survive in all of the orders I’ve had. As long as you take special care to communicate with your hatchery and post office, they should be just fine! I know it’s tempting to be annoyed by chick minimums, but the hatcheries know when it’s safe to ship larger or smaller amounts. Trust them! I like to mail order my chicks because I can basically tailor my flock how I want to. I don’t have to wait for my local farm supply store to get the kind I want. However, if that’s what you prefer, most stores are excellent about ordering the types you want!

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady


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