An Inside Look at How MacFarlane Pheasants Boxes Chicks for Live Delivery

Published On: November 2, 2015Categories: Chicks, Transportation

In an average year, MacFarlane Pheasants ships over a million chicks to its customers. Great precision and planning goes into boxing and shipping our chicks to ensure that they arrive healthy and ready to be raised.

There are usually only two people counting and packing the chicks but when we need to do sexing, or determining whether the chick is a hen or a cock, we can have up to eight people working to provide the birds to the counters, with one person boxing each sex.

Preparation for shipping starts 5 days before the chicks are even scheduled to hatch.


  • The hatchery receives the order, method of delivery is determined (post office, pick-up, or manual delivery), and the number of birds is posted on each box.
  • Stacks of boxes are organized (no more than 3 boxes in each stack).
  • Each stack gets the customer’s name, address, and telephone number, and a postage code that can be scanned if traveling by mail.
  • Decisions are made about how many chicks per box based on the current temperature and the temperature of the final destination.

The Day of the Hatch

  • We count chicks into boxes by fives (3 in one hand and 2 in the other).
  • Our boxes are divided into four sections, and we place a maximum of 35 chicks in each corner. When shipping by post, shipping to hot climates, or shipping overseas we decrease the number of chicks per box. A common number per box in spring and summer is 131.
  • During the hottest months we reduce the number to 105 chicks per box to decrease the temperature inside the box and increase survival rates.
  • Chicks can live 2 to 3 days off their yolk sac.
  • Chicks are also fed NMAN, a supplement that holds a lot of water, to keep them from getting dehydrated, and the chicks love it!


  • Approximately 65% of our chicks are sent via the U.S. Postal Service.
  • After chick boxes are banded the birds are loaded in temperature-controlled trucks and driven to a Minneapolis postal hub that specializes in handling live animals. When the chicks arrive at their destination, the customer is called to pick them up.
  • Delivery time is 1-2 days
  • Truck temperature is kept at 70 degrees, but the close quarters inside the boxes keep the temperature at 100 degrees, which is perfect for the chicks.
  • At the customer’s request, we sometimes send large orders of boxed chicks from our facility to the customer’s door in a temperature-controlled truck.
  • Birds sent long distances or overseas are taken to Chicago’s O’Hare airport, put on a plane, and flown to their destination. Air shipments go to places such as Alaska, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, and England.
  • Report cards are sent with each order to make sure we are responsive to our customers’ needs.
  • All of our chick customers are automatically given their order plus 5 percent more chicks.

Visit us at MacFarlane Pheasants to learn more about our genetically superior chicks and see our chick pricing. Please contact us with any questions you have—we’d love to hear from you!

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