We’ve got a month or two left of our international shipping window for chicks and eggs. Space has to be booked with the airlines three to four weeks in advance to guarantee room and to make airlines aware we are shipping live cargo.
Live cargo – eggs or chicks – can’t go into a cargo hold with materials containing dry ice. There is only a certain amount of oxygen available and when dry ice degrades, it uses up oxygen. By the end of June, most airlines don’t take live cargo because of the heat.
International shipments are timed for hunting seasons in specific countries. Eggs are boxed in cardboard boxes with egg flats between them and chicks are crated. The custom boxes have four compartments to keep the chicks comfortable. An extra layer of protective Styrofoam is attached to the bottom of the boxes so birds don’t become chilled sitting on a cargo floor.
We ship partridges and pheasant chicks. About 130 pheasant chicks go in a box and about 175 partridges will fit in a box. They are packed with a gel that contains moisture and vitamins to help them survive the trip – but they are pretty hardy and we’ve been doing this long enough to make sure the chicks are in good shape when they arrive.
Both chicks and eggs get an international health certificate before they go and a local vet as well as a federal veterinarian sign off on the certificate. Chick and egg boxes are clearly marked so airline employees know its live and fragile cargo. Our trucks take the boxed chicks and eggs to airports in Minneapolis or Chicago.
By far the easiest country to ship to is England because they have set regulations and there is not a language barrier. But we’ve shipped to Tajikistan, Kajikistan, Qatar, Italy, France, Denmark, Spain and Canada. The language barriers can be difficult, but we manage. We’ve even got a contest going to help keep track of our pheasants - https://www.pheasant.com/resources/aroundtheworldsubmissions.aspx
Even though chicks and eggs might be going on a 14-hour flight, they actually get there sooner than if they are shipped in the United States by the U.S. Postal Service. It can take several days to ship across the United States.