Sunday, March 13, 2011

How Do Our Ducklings and Goslings Actually Get To You?

Originally posted by John Metzer on Fri, Dec 03, 2010 @ 12:06 PM 

The logistics involved in getting our ducklings and goslings to you are fascinating.  But first I want to give you a little history.

Until about twelve years ago the United States Postal Service (USPS) had its own planes and flew much of the mail throughout the United States.  This was their Eagle Service system.  But then the USPS decided they could do it cheaper by tendering all of the mail to commercial airlines (Delta, United, Northwest, Continental, etc.), so they got rid of all their planes.  This worked fine for most mail but not for day-old birds.  There are two problems with live, day-old birds: 1) the carriers are paid by weight and a box full of letters weighs more than a box full of chicks or ducklings and 2) they have to make sure the temperature and ventilation in the hold is sufficient for live birds.  Though it was in their contract to do so, some airlines stopped carrying live birds because of these problems and shipping became a problem nationwide.


At this point the Bird Shippers of America was formed by mail order hatcheries and associated companies and customers.  A lobbyist was hired and we made some headway.  But the situation continued to deteriorate.  It was so bad in the spring of 2005 that it changed from week to week on where we could mail our birds.  We could take orders but we never knew if we could mail there on hatch day.  Luckily in the fall of 2006 FedEx signed a contract with the USPS to haul day-old poultry on their planes.  FedEx took this very seriously and I was soon visited by three national FedEx managers to better understand the hatchery business and ensure the system they set up would work.  Since that time, shipping has been very consistent and relatively trouble free.

But back to my story.  Where do the ducklings and goslings go when they leave our hatchery?  We mail them in the local town of Chualar, population 600, Monday afternoons.  My father started mailing ducklings there on the way to work 40 years ago and we have continued ever since.  USPS trucks pick up the shipments there and take them to Salinas, a nearby distribution center and then on to San Jose.  Some are flown from San Jose but most go to San Francisco or Oakland airports.  They are transferred to FedEx late Monday evening. 


FedEx has a Day Turn and a Night Turn.  Day Turn are those birds going by Priority mail.  They leave early in the morning and are sent to one of two FedEx sorting centers for live poultry: Oakland by truck or Memphis by plane.  At this hub they are sorted and transferred to the plane going to your nearest, major airport and usually arrive by late afternoon Tuesday.
Night Turn are for Express Mail packages.  They travel at night and arrive at the destination airport the next morning.  The only way we can ensure Express Mail packages travel on Monday's Night Turn is by delivering them to the San Francisco airport Monday afternoon.  But even by our doing this, there is no guarantee they will arrive the next day to your Post Office.


Once they arrive at the destination airport, FedEx transfers the birds back to the USPS.  Sometimes the USPS distributes from the airport post office and other times they are transferred to a regional distribution center.  That evening and early the next morning the USPS has trucks taking the mail to all the individual post offices in the area.  Most arrive at your local post office between 4:00am and 8:00 Wednesday morning.  Some larger post offices have a second delivery later in the day.


 You can always drop by your local post office to learn their procedure but 99% of the time they will phone you early that morning to ask you to come get your birds.  It is better for you to go pick them up so your birds get water and food as soon as possible – and don't travel with your mailperson all day before they deliver your mail.  Make sure you give the hatchery the most appropriate phone number for you to be contacted in the morning.
FedEx carries most of our birds but some of the other major airlines, including Continental, Northwest (now Delta) and American, also carry day-old poultry for the USPS.  It is an excellent system that works very well the vast majority of the time and is envied by hatcheries and their customers in Canada and most of the European countries.

29 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I love my Metzer ducks!

    I would like to know, though, what do you do with the "extra" males?

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  2. There are never Pekin males left over as they are always desired for meat production. For the other colored breeds, some are sold to those with specialty, Asian meat markets, some are sold for raptor or reptile feeding, some are put down and some go to those only wanting males (quieter than females).

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  3. John Metzer-
    Thank you for being honest about what happens to your extra males. Honesty is important and the next time I order ducks, it will be from you.

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  4. we live in Fairfield, Ca, about 2.5 hours from you. Can we come to your farm to pick up any ducks that we purchase?

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  5. Yes, but they must be ordered in advance just like the birds we ship. If you pick them up, there is no minimum order or heat pack charge. You can pick up one bird and pay for that one bird.

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  6. That is wonderful news. Thank you for your reply

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  7. how can i tell if i have male or female rouen

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    1. You cannot easily tell until they are about 8 weeks of age. At that point, the males voice will be a deep, raspy squeek. The females will have a loud QUACK! Soon after this the males will have a curly feather on their tail. By about 14 weeks, the males will start to have their pretty coloring with a green head, etc. The females remains shades of brown.

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    2. Is that the same for Welsh Harlequins? What about geese?

      Thanks for the help,
      Audrey

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    3. The voice changes and curly feather apply to all domestic ducks except Muscovy. The voice does not change with the geese nor do they have a curly feather on their tail. It is more difficult to differentiate adult geese. Males are typically louder, have a more shrill voice, walk a bit more "proud" and more confrontational. But none of these are black and white as they are with ducks.

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  8. Extremely disappointed that our ducklings arrived DOA on Friday. Being shipped out on a Monday and not arriving until Friday is unacceptable!! Such a terrible waste of precious life.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the US Post Office is our biggest challenge. Local postmasters and their co-workers are usually exemplary in their service. In my experience, it is the managers behind the scenes that are extremely difficult to work with. Little accountability, acceptance of responsibility or customer service in solving problems - which we have had. Unfortunately we have no alternative to the USPS. My apologies for your extreme disappointment. We would be happy to replace your ducklings or give you a refund. Just give us a call at 800-424-7755.

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    2. Unfortunately these were replacements for the first shipment of which only two of six survived shipping. This is a logistics issue. The USPS simply cannot deliver here in an adequate time frame and we don't want to be a party in more needless death. Our two Cayuga girls are doing great! We also ended up with a male Rouen duckling that no one else wanted. Hadn't planned on a male, but maybe this will work out in our favor. Maybe this time next year will hatch our own ducklings. We appreciate all you have done, our disappointment and grief is due to the USPS, not with Metzer farm.

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  9. If I place an order on August 17 when will my ducklings arrive,
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. If we ship on August 17, they will most likely arrive Wednesday morning, August 19. But you must order prior to August 17 if you want us to ship on August 17. You can order today if you want.

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  10. How are goslings watered and fed for shipping?

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    Replies
    1. As all day old poultry hatch immediately after absorbing their yolk, they really don't need food or water for 60 hours. But we include a cup of GroGel at no charge in all our shipments as it provides the moisture and nutrients needed for them to get a good start.

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  11. Can ducklings survive if shipped to Alaska? We wan to order, but we are worried the ducklings will not survive the trip? Have you any experience shipping to Alaska?

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    Replies
    1. It is difficult to get birds to AK within two days. But we can add another cup of GroGel for them to eat along the way and that normally ensure success.

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    2. Thank you! I have ordered 3 ducks to be shipped here to Cordova,AK on Mar 13th. Hope all goes well with their journey.

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  12. If I plan to have ducklings delivered to Minnesota, what percent should I expect to survive?

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    1. I assume you mean what percent survive the trip, not what percent survive to adulthood. I would expect 95-100% to survive the trip. We include an extra 2% in larger orders. Of course if there are losses, we will replace them or credit you.

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  13. How do I know what post office my ducks will be shipped to?

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    1. It would be the same post office if I had mailed you a package of cookies and you had to go to the Post Office to pick them up. If you are in a large city and that does not help, you will need to go on the USPS website or phone their 800#.

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  14. Hi. I just ordered 2 Buff geese to be shipped on April 3. This is my 1st time getting geese, I've always gotten baby chicks by USPS and they've done well. However, they never traveled as far as these will have to. I'm on the coast of NC. Is it still possible to get them to me by Wed? It sure seems far away. I am always at the PO at 630a to get my chicks and will do the same for these 2. I hate the thought of them riding around in the truck most of the day after the stressful journey they've already had thus far. Just seems like it would take a day longer to the far east coast. Thank you. You came highly recommended so I shouldnt be concerned I know. :)

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    1. It is highly likely they will arrive to you on Wednesday. Distance is not a problem. It is the connections of the Post Office once the ducklings arrive at your nearest major airport. Sometimes they arrive after the truck has already left to distribute to other distribution centers. Or they arrive in the distribution center after the truck has left from the distribution center to deliver to all the local towns. But distance is not a problem. There are areas of California that take three days just because of the arrival and departure times from the airport and distribution center. But in your instance you only have two goslings that will have a full cup of grogel to eat in case they are delayed. Thank you for your order.

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  15. Thank you so much for your reply! We're very excited!

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  16. I live in New York, so would I receive ducklings on Wednesday? Or if I select Priority would I receive them earlier? Also is the Gro-gel something the ducklings can eat when they are in the process of being shipped or is this a mixture that is made once I receive them?

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    1. Yes, you should receive them by Wednesday. Express will not move the shipment from two days to one day. The only value of Express is if your shipment would normally take three days (arrive Thursday) then it would probably take two. We supply the GroGel at no charge and that is for them to eat during their journey. It will probably be all gone when they arrive.

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