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Another Postal Service Issue: Mail-Order Chicks, Dead

Thousands aren't surviving usual shipments to Maine farmers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – When Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies before Congress Friday and Monday, he'll surely get lots of questions about how new policies might affect mail-in voting. But he might also get questions about a new and grisly problem with mail-order chicks. The Portland Press Herald reports that thousands of chicks mailed to Maine farmers have been arriving dead in recent weeks. For example, poultry farmer Pauline Henderson discovered last week that all 800 live chicks she received from a Pennsylvania hatchery were dead. "We've never had a problem like this before," she tells the newspaper. "Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork, and out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping." Exactly how the birds died is unclear, but Henderson isn't alone with this problem.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, says she has relayed similar complaints from dozens of farmers to DeJoy and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "It's one more of the consequences of this disorganization, this sort of chaos they've created at the post office and nobody thought through when they were thinking of slowing down the mail," she says. One wrinkle in her criticism: Henderson says her chicks weren't delayed, though she suspects they were somehow mishandled. If the idea of mail-order chicks sounds bizarre, National Geographic explained how it works years ago. Thanks to a "quirk in chick biology," they can survive "quite a few days" after hatching without food. Hatcheries have long taken advantage of this to safely mail the chicks to farmers. (Read more US Postal Service stories.)

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