Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

The sound of peeping, fuzzy, freshly-hatched chicks drifts through Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, Missouri.

It’s a busy time for third-generation owner Jeff Smith. For hatchery season, which occurs from February to October, 300,000 eggs are delivered every seven days to the hatchery. For hatcheries, getting newborn chicks to their owner is a race against time. He has about a hundred employees working to get 200 varieties of chicks delivered safely to customers. 

“We work 24/7 here, everybody is tapped out on the time and energy that they can put into it,” Smith says.