As I peered through the window at the eggs I had a flood of emotion overcome me. The anticipation of the new chick arrival has been burning inside of me since November as I kept hearing from the long time employees at Murray McMurray Hatchery just how interesting the hatch was. Now, I was moments away from experiencing it myself, first hand. As I peered over the eggs, I started to look for any indication of which one would hatch first, and then, there it was. An egg started with a slight movement, followed by a little crack, then a tiny hole, more cracks, a bigger hole. “Come on buddy, come on you can do it,” I found myself whispering through the glass. The shell slowly gave away to the unfolding strength of the baby chick. I think I blacked out from the excitement. When my eyes regained focus, I could see another chick emerging from its shell, then another, and another. What started as concentrating on one egg, I found myself glaring over 25 chirping, healthy baby chicks, then 10 more stood up, next another 15. Soon, baby chicks were all over, chirping with excitement like they have been waiting to talk to their neighboring baby chicks for 21 days.
With chicks fully alert and ready to meet their new homes, it was time to assemble the team quickly. You could feel the excitement in the air! New chicks were just born and the team comprised of veterans and rookies were anxious to prepare the chicks for a safe delivery. Bud began the evening with a word of encouragement and thanks to everyone present. He reminded us that we were about to make a lot of people very happy. It felt like Christmas in a way, wrapping a highly anticipated gift and knowing that the recipient was going to love it! Bud reminded us that while we needed to work quickly, these precious animals needed to be handled with the utmost care and respect. While everyone was already on board, it was great to hear the head of the company set the priority for the caring of these new lives.
So how do you fill nearly 2000 orders comprised of 25 chicks or more, of various breeds, in each order? Very carefully. Murray McMurray Hatchery has been filling baby chicken orders since 1917. To say they have it down to a science is an understatement. A science, with a little bit of luck. You have to keep in mind, orders are filled while hatching continues to happen! What we have to fill orders with solely depends on how well the eggs hatch. Each chick type is categorized, each order is separately printed, each worker has an access badge that allows them to take out each chick type they need, etc. Each box has a couple of scoops of grow gel that is filled with vitamins and electrolytes to ensure the chicks don’t go hungry as well. And when there is a question, veteran employees are quick to help as they are working side by side with the rookies to ensure each order is accurately filled. It is a process that is extremely unique and perplexing at the same time. Thanks to some very knowledgeable computer programmers, dedicated management and caring employees, all orders are filled quickly, efficiently and accurately. At the helm of the hatch is Kent, a long time employee of Murray McMurray Hatchery. Kent oversees the newly hatched eggs, enters the inventory levels, marks what orders can be filled, and keeps the general process flowing. In the midst of what can become a very stressful ordeal, Kent maintains his energy and smile, knowing what this night is all about – happy customers and healthy chicks. Quality controls are set in place to visually verify each order filled and then it’s off to one of the six possible trucks. Most chicks will catch a plane, catch a nap at a local post office overnight, and then be welcomed with smiling faces at your home.
These are no ordinary boxes that we trust with our baby chicks. To learn more about the design of the box and the many components of it, visit our YouTube page at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPqC2AMmKJU
The entire process has been an overwhelming learning experience. With the sound of trucks pulling away and the chirping fading away into the night, I find myself sitting on a lowly stool and realize it’s the first time I sat down during the night. My first order that I filled was headed to Louisiana. The next one was to Illinois. The next one to Michigan. We sent baby chicks out all across the United States, some into US border crossings for our Canadian customers and one even to Hawaii. I’ll never forget that first baby chick that I saw being born. Holding new baby chicks is one of the best things ever to experience, but nothing is better than handing them over to their new family.
I have my first spring shipment next week and I’m so excited! I ordered some of the Cornish Broilers to compare with the jumbo Cornish Cross. Also coming are a few replacement layers and a new rooster for my Wyandottes… So much fun! I keep my family and neighbors in meat and eggs all year ;-) Thank you for such healthy birds. It makes it easy!
It’s so wonderful to read this account of what happens behind the scenes. Thank you for sharing. We are thrilled to have an order of baby chicks and another order of ducks coming the week of March 11th. I cannot wait!
I’m getting my first Murray chicks shipped out the week of February 26th. So if you are there and shipping out chicks on hatch day again, look for my order ! Kelly in Oklahoma!
I’m so excited, I’ve been reading the blog, the website and watching the youtube channel. They are all really well done and you deserve much kudos for your work for the internet crowd. The mystery chick is such fantastic idea, I am have so much fun speculating what I will get and hoping it is one of the many breeds I regret not ordering….and I think I literally ordered 10 or 11 different breeds. Much enjoyment on my end and the chicks have not even hatched yet! Thank you!
Also, if you are curious where those chicks end up: we are back-yarders with a kindergartener who are keeping chickens for eggs, bug control/gardening/compost and our own amusement.
How exciting! I think you will be very pleased with a variety of chicks. What an awesome and fun learning experience for your child!
It’s always exciting when you open that box of chirping chicks! Its like Christmas all over again!
Keep up the good work MM!
I follow this site as I am a very keen chicken lover……Just want to know do you ever sen to South Africa???
Unfortunately, no, I’m sorry but we do not send chicks to South Africa…
Thank you for sharing your “first hatch” experience. I have marvelled in my imagination at how it must work, to get all those little bundles of joy from the newly lain egg to a peeping chick in a box on it’s way to to it’s home. I received one of those little peeping boxes last week. This is the 2nd batch of chicks I have received from McMurray Hatchery. The first batch was from the last hatch of 2010. I so enjoyed raising up my little babies to a beautiful flock. I had wanted chickens for ever and a day, ever since I was a child and helped my Grandmother feed the hens and gather eggs on the farm. Having my own chickens was everything I ever thought it should or would be. I kept my flock in a 1/4 acre fenced area. They were very happy there and I could easily watch them from the house or yard. This last November we had some significant wind one night. It blew the garden gate open and our dog went in and killed my entire flock. I was heart broken to say the least! I was so upset I contemplated putting the dog down. Instead I found her a good home with children and no chickens. Knowing how sad I was at losing my hens, My daughter and Son-in-law gave me a McMurray’s gift certificate for Christmas. I put in an order for the first hatch of 2012. They arrived a week ago today. I am so HAPPY to have them. They are healthy and energetic and growing like crazy. Thank you to Murray McMurray Hatchery for having such beautiful robust chicks and thank you to all the workers who will perform this weekly miracle to get those chicks to their new homes.
I received my FIRST ever chicks in June 2011 from one of those chirping boxes! It’s been 8 months of learning experiences and fun ever since. Keep up the good work writing your experiences, time passes quickly and I keep finding my camera and mind full of stories and photos I just haven’t posted yet!