WBOC's 65th Anniversary - Delmarva's Poultry Industry in 1954 - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

WBOC's 65th Anniversary - Delmarva's Poultry Industry in 1954

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DELMARVA-This year WBOC-TV is celebrating its 65th Anniversary. We first began operations on July 15th, 1954.   As part of our celebration--we're taking a look back at what life was like here on the shore at that time.

This includes a big boom for Delmarva's poultry industry.

Before 1923--chickens in Delaware were bred for egg production--not meat. Back then, chicken was reserved for special occasions and was not a big business. 

But that was before an accidental delivery led to big clucks and bucks for Cecile Long Steele of Ocean View.  

Carolyn Claypoole with Delaware's Agriculture Museum said, "She ordered what she believed to be 50 bitties or chicks. When they arrived via US Mail, she received not 50 but 500."

Instead of returning them Steele decided to raise them and sell them for meat.

Soon, others began following suit and by 1928--there were 500 growers raising broilers, or chickens raised for meat on Delmarva.

By the mid 1950's--just as WBOC was emerging in Salisbury, the broiling industry was also becoming more established.  Former Delaware Poultry Industry President Clark White tells us around this time came the launch of the Eastern Shore Poultry Growers Exchange in Selbyville. 

"Monday through Thursday they would be auctioned off at like 11 o'clock in the morning and that was done by the auctioneer, and there were three radio stations who carried the auction, at 11 o'clock in the morning, so a grower could go in and have an early lunch, and listen to see what his chickens were being sold for," he said. 

According to DPI--the end of the Selbyville auction marked the beginning of a new era of vertically integrated poultry companies. This means the entire production process beginning with hatching eggs, breeding flocks, and the delivery of chickens to retail and wholesale markets was placed under one management. 

Partial integration began in the 40's, it grew in the 50's, and by the mid-1960s, 90 percent of broilers produced came from integrated operations, and is the same model we see today.

Other changes during this time also included changes to feeding.

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