USPS changes blamed for deliveries of thousands of dead chicks: 'We've never had a problem like this before'

Poultry farmers in Maine have complained of an increasing number of young chicks dying en route to their farms, blaming it on operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service.

Pauline Henderson, who owns Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon, Maine, said all 800 chicks in a shipment from Pennsylvania were dead by the time they arrived last week.

“We’ve never had a problem like this before,” she told the Portland Press-Herald. “Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork. And out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping.”

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Henderson told the newspaper the chicks shipped in the same amount of time they usually do, but that they appeared to have been mishandled en route. She added that thousands of birds shipped through the Postal Service processing center in Shrewsbury, Mass., before shipment to Maine and New Hampshire appeared to have been similarly affected.

Under Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Judge issues nationwide injunction against Postal Service changes Postal service changes delayed 7 percent of nation's first-class mail: Democratic report MORE, the Postal Service has seen several operational changes, including reductions to sorting equipment and a proposal to end all overtime. Rep. Chellie PingreeRochelle (Chellie) PingreeShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' USDA commits to trade aid for lobster industry using coronavirus coffers US trade deal with EU a boon for lobster industry struggling under China tariffs MORE (D-Maine) said in a letter to DeJoy and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerduePerdue has found the right path in National Forests Democrats seek clarity on payroll tax deferral for federal workers USDA extending free meals for kids through end of the year if funding allows after criticism MORE that she has received several similar complaints about poultry in her district.

“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,” Pingree said. “And can you imagine, you have young kids and they are getting all excited about having a backyard flock and you go to the post office and that’s what you find?"

“This is a system that’s always worked before and it’s worked very well until these changes started being made,” she added.

The Postal Service is particularly vital for poultry farmers as no private entities ship live animals. Maine has no hatcheries of its own, relying on interstate shipments.