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From Hatchery To The Farm

by 5m Editor
21 May 2007, at 11:24am

US - For 90 years, the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City has flown past the competition to remain a top seller of fowl and poultry in the United States.

“In the early days, every farm had a flock of chickens on it and the farm wife’s spending money came from when she took the cream and eggs into town and sold them.”

—Bud Wood

President, Murray McMurray Hatchery

Murray McMurray officially started his chicken business in 1917 and now his grandson, Murray McMurray, helps run the business. The elder McMurray had always been interested in poultry as a young man and particularly enjoyed showing birds at the local and state fairs, a niche that remains important to the business, said company president Bud Wood.

At first, Murray McMurray sold baby chicks to area farmer and hobbyists, then when incubators came around, he hatched and sold his own stock. Two years later, he sent out his first catalog and price list. Unfortunately, his primary business—a bank—went broke in the early stages of the Depression, which prompted him to go into the hatchery and mail-order, baby-chick business full time.

In the 1930s and 1940s, McMurray Hatchery found itself serving local farmers and mail order customers. But then in the 1950s and 1960s, livestock began disappearing from the farm and chicken flocks were few and far between, which remains true today.

“In the early days, every farm had a flock of chickens on it and the farm wife’s spending money came from when she took the cream and eggs into town and sold them,î” Wood said. “But through the years, that’s changed and now very few farms have chickens on them like they used to, so we’ve turned more into a hobby business with 110 different breeds of chickens. We also hatch and sell ducks, geese, peafowls and turkeys. So while the business has changed, it’s still successful. Four-H and FFA also is a big part of our business, as some of the youth will get the broilers and grow them for their projects.î”

While railroads originally were major carriers of the baby chicks, they were phased out. Then the airlines began transporting chicks, making it possible to transport the day-old poultry to a customer within the 72-hour period required by the U.S. Postal Service. In fact, 99 percent of the hatchery’s business is done through its catalog. But when the airlines a few years ago decided they wouldn’t transport the live chicks, all hatcheries’ future success was on the line.

Source: The Messenger

5m Editor