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For Maryland's poultry industry, the egg came first

by 5m Editor
14 August 2006, at 8:56pm

MARYLAND - President Herbert Hoover may have promised a chicken in every pot, but it was Eastern Shore farmers who made it happen.

The roots of the modern poultry industry - by far the single largest sector of the state's agriculture industry - can be traced to the early 1920s, a time when chicken was considered a luxury dish and pretty much limited to Sunday dinner for the rich.

As the story goes, a clerk at a chicken supply house mistakenly sent Cecile Steele, of Ocean View, Del., 500 chicks for her egg hatchery, instead of the 50 she ordered. At that time, eggs were the prime cash crop in the region. Even Perdue Farms Inc., the giant Salisbury-based chicken processor, started out as an egg supplier.

Instead of sending the extra chicks back, Steele raised them for meat and sold them to a local buyer, who in turn found northern markets for them.

The success of this enterprise prompted other farmers throughout the Delmarva Peninsula to begin raising chickens for meat, according to a poultry industry study by the University of Maryland for the Maryland Agro-Ecology Center Inc.

Source: Baltimore Sun

5m Editor