Mac Dykeman has come up with a better way of shipping baby chicks, one that has put the Langley Fine Arts school student in the running for a $5,000 innovation prize later this month.
As a 4-H poultry club member whose family raises egg layers and specialty poultry breeds, she often orders just-hatched chicks to raise.
When the birds would arrive, some were cold, underweight or injured, Dykeman said.
“I noticed when I received shipments of day-old chicks they would arrive with high mortality or morbidity rates,” Dykeman said.
Part of the problem was the square shape of the standard cardboard shipping boxes, she noticed, something that allowed chicks to get crushed into the corners.
Temperature control was another issue.
Putting a “hot pocket” warmer in the box for shipping in cold weather would mean possibly dangerous temperature spikes, and so would adding a cold pack in warmer weather.
What was needed was a box with no corners and a gentler way of managing temperatures, she decided.
“I created a round insert so the birds wouldn’t get crushed in the corners,” Dykeman said.
She added a raised false floor to the box so a shipper could slide a heat pad or cold pack in to protect the birds without making direct contact with the baby birds and risking spikes in temperatures.
Tests, including a 72-hour mock shipping that included transport by car, have proven her design ensures more chicks will survive.
“The birds would go to the edge of the box but they couldn’t get crushed,” Dykeman said, during a presentation to the Langley Advance Times in the poultry barn behind her home.
She has now applied to patent her design, “Safer Chick-Ments” and she is preparing to make a pitch to a panel of experts later this month who will decide if her idea merits a substantial cash prize.
On Tuesday, March 12, Dykeman will be one of five B.C. students invited to make presentations at Youth Innovation Day at the Vancouver convention centre.
Two prizes of $5,000 each are to be won at the “Reality Revolution Solution Pitches” run by Innovate BC and The Science Fair Foundation.
Reality revolution is defined “tech integration and the jobs of the future” by the the #BCTECHSummit, an opportunity for students to see what is new in the technology sector
Dykeman and the other students will each have two minutes to pitch their proposals to a panel of judges, with the winner to be announced at the completion of the event.