LEBANON, Mo. – Plenty of news is surfacing about the United States Postal Service, including a story about at least 4,800 chicks that were shipped to Maine arriving dead.

“The recent event is unfortunate as it is, but it does happen,” Jeff Smith, director of marketing and sales at Cackle Hatchery said. “We had a case two years ago. We were furnishing, breeding stock to another hatchery out in California. We had about 55 bundles that were flying out and we don’t know what happened. Something definitely went wrong. It was a big hit for us. It was a big hit for the person or the hatchery buying them.

Smith says what happened in Maine isn’t common, but it can happen.  Cackle Hatchery uses USPS to ship live chicks across the country.

“The post office does a great job in most of their shipments.”

Smith says 97-98 percent of his company’s USPS shipments arrive in excellent in shape, with good service.

“That’s pretty remarkable,” Smith said. “Within 48 hours they can get something from maybe Missouri to Maine or a little town in Montana, or a little place up in Alaska.”

But, on the down side, Smith says shipments can be misrouted, which leads to delays. A postage indicator or scanner can be lost, or there can be circulation problems on an aircraft.

“The post office, they don’t really ensure anything anymore,” Smith said. “So, if you’re shipping lives, and there’s a very for sure known damage tp the parcel, they’ll do up to $100 per parcel. In most cases that doesn’t begin to cover what you’re shipping.”

In those damaged parcels, Smith says some chicks can be chilled or partially smothered.

“It’s going to be hard for those animals to recover,” Smith said. “Certainly if they got overheated, that can cause some health issues. It is rare, but it does happen. We don’t live in a perfect world.”

In terms of those rare, unlucky moments, Smith says his company has been better off in 2020 than in previous years.

“Over the last hundred years, by the post office doing this they’ve allowed you, me, anybody to be able to economically be able to have something shipped in. Whether it’s a lizard or baby chicks, there’s a whole list of things that the post office will allow you to ship. But, it’s a great way that people have been able to take advantage of some husbandry of animals and an easy way to obtain them.”