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.”
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 DeJoy, the Postal Service has seen several operational changes, including reductions to sorting equipment and a proposal to end all overtime. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said in a letter to DeJoy and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue 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.
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