The Lower Shore
by Mindie Burgoyne
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Poultry Industry produced 4,206,500 lbs of chicken in 2001 -
that's 14% of all poultry produced in the
The first "broilers" in
the US were produced in Sussex Co., Delaware
by Mrs. Wilmer Steele in 1923. By 1930 the industry had been
Through the 1930s Delmarva
dominated broiler production. The WW II Food Administration placed
a "first call freeze" on all poultry products in Delmarva.
The result was that broiler production migrated to other
industry accounted for $1.28 billion - or 9 percent of Delmarva's
gross regional product, and 33,500 jobs as of 2001, one in every
twelve jobs in Delmarva.
Delaware chicken (and Daniel)
did chickens get here?
birds are descendants of an ancient flying reptile called the Archaeoptrix
domestic chickens (Gallus domesticus) are descended
from the Red Jungle Fowl.
jungle fowl species (Red, Green, Grey, and
inhabited southeast Asia and
Chinese domesticated the Red Jungle Fowl for cock fighting
about 1400 BC.
chickens first came to
in the early 1700s as residue of the food supplies.
early imports the American chicken breeds were developed (Dominiques,
Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, New
Mrs. Steel and the
first "broilers" on the Shore
A farm housewife, Cecile Steele of
Ocean View, Delaware, mistakenly received 500 chicks from her hatchery supplier.
Instead of sending them back, she raised these chickens for meat
and later sold them to a local buyer, who in turn found northern
markets for them.
The success of this enterprise led
other farmers to begin raising chickens solely for meat. By
the mid-1930s, broiler production in the
had increased to 34 million birds annually, with Delmarva
raising about two-thirds of the total. Four counties on the
Worcester and Wicomico in Maryland, and Accomack in
were among the top five broiler production counties in the nation.
More Facts about the Delmarva Poultry
The poultry industry is the
largest agricultural sector on Delmarva.
In the four counties of
two rural counties, and
in Virginia, farm revenue from poultry enterprises make up three-fourths of
the total value of farm sales. And most of the rest of farm
sales come from feed crops, which are almost entirely fed to Delmarva
poultry. The Delmarva broiler industry includes:
Fertilizer pellet plant
Maryland's second largest port (after Baltimore), carrying oil products, aggregates for
building, and feed for the region's broiler industry. One offshoot
has been the development of oil processed from soybeans, a major
agricultural crop, for use in food.
Per capita of poultry meat is
highest of all meat groups.
Pork in 1982.|
passed Pork in 1985.|
Beef in 1988.|
consumption alone surpasses beef in 1993.|
U.S. Department of Agriculture,
National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mississippi University,
Delmarva Poultry Industry, The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce.
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