Friday, September 29, 2017

How to ship hatching eggs (the right way)

I have bought a lot of hatching eggs online. In fact, I started my chicken adventure with shipped hatching eggs! Every time I opened a new package of shipped eggs was a little surprise. It seemed like everyone had a different method for packing and sending eggs through the mail. Sadly not all of them worked!

With all the boxes and boxes of shipped eggs I received, only 1 box that was crushed but luckily the contents were just fine. I started comparing the different styles of packaging for shipping eggs and found the similarities in the boxes with the broken eggs and the boxes that all the eggs were intact. From there I figured out exactly how to ship hatching eggs with great results.

how to ship eggs

First though, I want to tell you what didn't work. Not enough padding was the main reason hatching eggs arrived cracked. If there was any movement inside the package, the movement could cause the eggs to bang against the sides of the box and crack. 

Not securing the eggs was another problem. Many time I received a box with well wrapped eggs just floating around inside a box of packing materials. Flimsy packing materials was another problem. Wrapping eggs in paper towels is great for absorbing the mess when they inevitably crack. Not so good for actually providing some padding.

On the other side of the coin, well padded and secured eggs with lots of padding in the box always arrived intact! Since it worked well for receiving eggs, that is how I started packing hatching eggs to send out. It's been 7 or 8 years now and I've never shipped eggs that broke in transit! 

 How To Ship Hatching Eggs

To pack hatching eggs you’ll want to first wrap them in strips of bubble wrap. I use the bubble wrap with the small bubbles for this. Make sure it goes all the way around the egg twice. Secure with tape on the sides, top and bottom. It will be bulky on top and bottom but that's ok, padding is good! Place eggs pointed end down in an extra-large egg carton with the top cut off. You'll need the largest egg carton you can get since the bubble wrap adds a lot of size to the eggs.

Place the carton top on the bubble wrapped eggs and secure it to the bottom with tape. I use clear packing tape. Wrap the carton with a few sheets of bubble wrap if you have it. I like to use the wrap with the big bubbles for this.

packing eggs for shipping

Get a priority mail box from USPS. Depending on how many eggs you are shipping you can choose between flat rate (one price no matter what's in the box) or regular priority (you pay based on size and shape). Flat rate will probably be more expensive because eggs aren't heavy, but you'll want to check with the post office.

Put a layer of Styrofoam peanuts, or a few layers of bubble wrap in the bottom of the box. Place the egg carton in the box diagonally, on top of the packing peanuts. Fill in the corners with more packing peanuts, air cells or wadded up bubble wrap. If you don't have packing materials you can use wadded up newspaper or even balled up plastic grocery bags. Top with bubble wrap and tape securely shut. Make sure the box is full enough that the egg carton does not move around.

shipping fertile eggs

I write fragile on the box on every side, top and bottom. Some people like to write “do not x-ray, live embryos”. I've hatched shipped eggs with and without that written on the box with about the same results. Then again, not all packages go through an x-ray but specifically asking not to might be deemed suspicious. Your call.

I also write this end up on the top and sides with arrows going towards the top. Keeping the eggs upright puts less stress on the air cells, but there's no real proof that just writing instructions on the box helps at all. 

For this very reason though, you'll want to attach the mailing label to the top of the box. Make sure the bar code label is placed on the top of the box by the postal clerk. Packages are sent through the scanner with their labels facing up since the scanner is above the belt the packages are on. This way it will be sent through the sorter upright and hopefully stay that way as much as possible.

labeling and shipping eggs

If you have NPIP paperwork, you’ll attach this to the outside of the box. It usually fits nicely on the side. Ship priority mail and make sure you request a signature. I only ship Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to insure the eggs arrive before the weekend. The longer the package is in transit the more chance it can be exposed to extreme temperatures or damaged. 

If you plan on shipping a lot of eggs, packing materials can get expensive.  To save money you'll want to start saving bubble wrap and air cells whenever you receive something in the mail. I drive the husband crazy with this! At one point I had 3 garbage bags full of Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap. Priority mail boxes and labels are free for the post office. You can order them online and they'll bring them with your mail.

The best time to ship hatching eggs  is in spring and fall. Summer and winter bring extreme temperatures and even though you may live in a mild area, the eggs might have to travel through an area with temperatures too high or low for them. You don't want to risk your eggs sitting in a mail truck or cargo plane in 90 degree heat!

Shipping hatching eggs is a great way to acquire breeds that you normally would not have access to. Every year I choose a new breeder and order eggs from them to add new chicks to my flock. It's also a great way to make a little extra money....now that you know how to ship hatching eggs!

~L

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