“I wanted to make it happen,” he said. Our condensed history of the chicken starts in 1900. They're so pretty, they were recognized by the APA for exhibition (in 1952), in those years when production was as significant as beauty. Perdue in Milford and Mountaire Farms in Millsboro are probably the two largest poultry processors in the region although Townsends Inc., in Millsboro and Allen Family Foods in Seaford are also significant producers. Though in the early days, the sandy soil was a challenge because it tended to dry out quickly when rainfall was scarce. She sold them for 67 cents a pound in 1924 and used the proceeds to buy another 1,000 chicks. Farming has been a way of life in Delaware ever since the first settlers arrived more than three centuries ago. Most of the exported chicken stays in … The Blue Hen is not a recognized chicken breed. ... Twelve-year-old Amy Nerlinger of Wilmington named the star through a contest sponsored by the Delaware Museum of Natural History in the summer of 1999. Emily Carlin / Flickr. A lot has changed in the chicken industry since Cecile Steele decided to dive in, head first, but Delaware’s reputation for delivering quality poultry has only gotten stronger! In 1923, an Ocean View resident by the name of Celia Steele, already raising egg-laying chickens, decided to expand her operation. Rhode Island also recognizes a chicken as their state bird (Rhode Island red chicken). and their ancestry can be traced back to four species of wild jungle fowl from Southeast Asia. Today, chickens are raised indoors, in controlled conditions. Developers offer significant prices for land on which to build homes. All State Birds. He first chose to call them Indian Rivers, but later the name was switched to match its state of origin. While some sell produce to companies for processing, repackaging and resale, many of Sussex County’s growers have, in recent years, tapped into new sales opportunities, including community farmers markets and local restaurants. “These are great markets for small producers,” Kee said. Mating a Delaware female with a New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red male will result in a sex linked chick. Rail car and truck refrigeration added to the ability to move fruits, vegetables and poultry over longer distances. They are listed as a threatened breed. They're a cross between New Hampshire Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks with the goal of maintaing the prolific egg production of these two breeds but increased meat value. And he is raising them by himself. These fights, known as "cockfights" (which of course are now illegal), were popular during the Revolutionary War era. The Delaware Blue Hen is a blue strain of American gamecock.It was adopted on April 14, 1939, as the state bird of Delaware.It is one of three U.S. state birds that is not a species native to the United States.. History. “Delaware’s proximity to populations really made the difference,” Kee said. As Kee indicated, part of the success comes from a temperate climate and rich, sandy soil. The history of Delaware's state bird starts during the Revolutionary War, when a company of soldiers from Delaware known for their courage acquired the nickname of "The Blue Hen's Chickens" or "Sons of the Blue Hen." Early in the 20 th century, the Delmarva Peninsula area supplied the entire east coast of the United States with broilers. The history of Delaware's state bird starts during the Revolutionary War, when a company of soldiers from Delaware known for their courage acquired the nickname of "The Blue Hen's Chickens" or "Sons of the Blue Hen." Like other regions of the country, Delaware restaurants have capitalized on the current “farm to table” trend. They came to the poultry party late in 1940. Articles. They were developed in 1940 from a cross between New Hampshire Red hens and Plymouth Rock roosters. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met: Section 1. The breed is credited to Mr. George Ellis who bred Barred Plymouth Rock males to New Hampshire Red females in a quest to breed a fast-growing, sturdy meat bird for America’s growing appetite for chicken. Zitvogel’s grandparents started the farm, and he took over from his father. Now, son Jacob, 9, is working on the farm and Zitvogel hopes he will one day take over the operation. DESCRIPTION. It has plumage of a unique pattern, and is accepted as a high quality breed. Occasionally, the cross would produce an off-colored sport, and those were used as parent stock for the Delaware. Delaware chickens Color and Appearance Delawares are uniquely patterned types of chickens, being white with light black barring on the ends of the hackle, wings and tails. In the 1940’s companies such as Perdue Farms, the Delmarva Peninsula supplied the entire USA East Coast with chicken. State abbreviation/Postal code: Del./DENicknames: Diamond State; First State; Small WonderOrigin of name: From Delaware River and Bay; named in turn for Sir Thomas West, Baron De La WarrMotto: \"Liberty and independence\"Slogan: \"Like No Place on Earth\"State symbols:Bird: Delaware blue hen (1939)Butterfly: Eastern tiger swallowtail (1999)Fish: Weakfish (1981)Insect: Ladybug (1974)Marine Animal: Horseshoe crab (200… Delaware chickens are a reasonably new chicken breed that started with crosses of Barred Plymouth Rock roosters with New Hampshire hens. The story of how Delaware became a chicken state may be the single craziest story you've ever heard. “I have managed to find a niche within a niche,” he said. Delaware Code Title 29 § 317. Delaware The Delaware is a relatively new breed of chicken, having only been developed in 1940. Most hens lay at least four times per week. They constitute a major industry that’s a significant player in Delaware’s economy. But Zitvogel took over anyway, convinced he could be successful. Postles said all three of his chicken houses — each housing 40,000 birds — are fully automated for climate control. Origin of Delaware chickens The Delaware is a breed of chicken originating in the U.S. state of Delaware, from crossing Plymouth Rocks and New Hampshires. He’s been growing chickens for nearly 40 years and currently is raising 120,000 chickens simultaneously under contract with Perdue. The Delaware breed was breed developed in 1940 by crossing mainly Barred Plymouth Rocksand New Hampshire Reds to create this beautiful white bird. Over the years the "Blue Hen" became a popular symbol, used during the Civil War, in publications, and in political campaigns. Delaware was created in 1940 by George Ellis from Delaware. Delaware was created in the Delmarva Peninsula, became a fast favorite as a premier broiler in this regi… It is a rare chicken breed suited for meat production but also lays reasonably well. “We have access to nearly 100 million consumers.”. The chickens are a beautiful white color with black speckles along the neck and dark feathering at the rump. Periodically, that mating process created sports with light coloration. She kept them anyway, building a chicken house to house the 500 chicks. “Basically, I provide a growing service,” Postles said. AN ACT ADOPTING THE "BLUE HEN CHICKEN" AS THE OFFICIAL BIRD OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE. “To me, pardon the pun, the secret is to not put all your eggs in one basket.”. Source | Reference Links | Additional Resources, Delaware State Animal Symbols: Delaware.gov. Incidentally, Steele’s original 1923 chicken house is on display at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover and a replica is housed at the Ocean View Historical Society complex in Ocean View. In the early 20th century, crosses of Barred Plymouth Rock roosters on New Hampshire hens was a common choice for producing broilers. Originally called Indian Rivers, this rare breed was developed in 1940 by George Ellis in Delaware, USA from a cross between Barred Plymouth Rock males and New Hampshire females. This breed is also good for meat, so your flock of Delaware chickens can serve dual purposes. Delawares provided table meat to the entire east coast for a decade. By breeding these white (genetically silver) sports intentionally, George Ellis of Delaware created the breed in 1940. But its continued prominence in the state’s economy may have been the result of a mistake. Since then, genetic scientists have continued to improve the breed to produce characteristics valued by poultry consumers. But it may have been transportation improvements that catapulted Delaware into its role as a leader in agricultural production. There are now about 1,000 farms in the county. This nickname is said to come from the fighting offspring of a particular hen owned by their Captain, John Caldwell, that were famously good at winning fights between roosters. The Delaware poultry industry also achieved another breakthrough in the early 1940s when George Ellis of Ocean View developed a new breed of chicken that he named after the state. Compared to 100 years ago, “there were thousand more farms than there are today,” said Di Rafter, director of the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village. The current challenge for Sussex County farmers is encroaching development because of the growing popularity of coastal communities like Lewes, Rehoboth and Bethany beaches. Kee said that, unlike other parts of the country where corporate farms have become the norm, farming in Delaware remains a family enterprise. Updated: December 15, 2011. As the name implies Delawares came from Delaware, United States. The offspring were called "silver sports," and it was the offspring of those chickens that became the breed Delaware chickens. Kee, author of a book on the history of farming in Delaware, said the temperate climate and sandy soil made growing conditions ideal. The companies provide the chicks and the feed and pay the farmer to grow the birds. They are a heavy breed and lay extra-large, brown eggs. When it comes to iconic foods in Delaware, perhaps none is more misunderstood than slippery dumplings. The first of the original 13 states to ratify the federal Constitution, Delaware occupies a small niche in the Boston–Washington, D.C., urban corridor along The Delaware chicken is a 20th-century creation, developed specifically for the growing broiler market in the 1940s. CLICK TO SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY FLYER ADDRESS: 4191 North State Road 7 Hollywood, FL 33021 OPEN: Mon. Write to robin brown at The News Journal, Box 15505, Wilmington, DE 19850; fax 324-5509; call 324-2856; or email backstory@delawareonline.com. George Ellis crossed a New Hampshire Red and a Barred Plymouth Rock with the goal of maintaining the egg laying capabilities of both but creating a breed with increased meat potential. White feathering doesn’t leave dark patches on the skin, giving the carcass a great appearance. Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. At the time, the Delmarva Peninsula, where the breed was created, supplied chicken to the entiret… Origin comes from a hatchery man crossing Rock-Reds and occasionally a white colored chick would be in a tray considered to be an “off color” a “sport.” "Blue Hens" are not an officially recognized breed; they are bred and named for the steel-blue coloring of their feathers. “It is something we all think about but, so far, (developers and farmers) have been able to co-exist pretty well,” Kee said. The birds are curious and intelligent and generally known for a docile and calm dispositi… We formed the Delaware Club of America in Summer of 2013. “It is, basically, a one-person operation,” he said. The Delaware chicken breed has a rich history that begins in the early 1940’s in Ocean View, Delaware. But he also sells to local restaurants and has partnered with southern Delaware establishments such as Abbott’s Grill, Dogfish Head and Nage to produce meals highlighting local produce. As the country’s demand for chicken has soared—Americans eat three times more chicken now than they did 50 years ago—Delmarva-area production has soared along with it. The system has an alarm, which sends him an audible alert and a message on his phone if something isn’t working properly. The Delaware's feathers are white with black markings often around the neck, wing tips, and tail. She ordered 50 baby chicks to raise for broilers. Also a white bird woul… Delaware chicken eggs are large to jumbo-sized and are a beautiful brown color. Last year, the county produced an estimated 200 million chickens, making it the largest poultry supplying county in the nation. 7. By the turn of the century, a few entrepreneurs began selling young chickens during the summer for meat as a sideline activity on their family farms. The Delaware and a cross … And this was not the last strange thing to happen in the First State, either. Today, the University of Delaware atheletic teams are nicknamed "the fightin' Blue Hens" and the university maintains a flock of "Blue Hen Chickens." Irrigation systems solved the problem. By diversifying his crops and expanding his marketing, Zitvogel has been successful. Delaware Chicken Farm and Seafood Market has been a Hollywood tradition since 1951 - Get In Touch - : : : Contact Us. In 1923, Mrs Wilmer Steele of Delaware raised 500 chicks intended for meat birds. Year-round production was limited because vitamin D had not yet been discovered and the im… 1940: George Ellis crosses Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens to create the Delaware chicken. “In many ways, it is our largest industry,” he said. Her enterprise did so well, that by 1926 she bought a broiler house with capacity for 10,000 birds. Save For Later Print. She is considered to be the pioneer of the commercial broiler industry. Early poultry production consisted of many households having backyard flocks of dual-purpose chickens. While bred primarily as a meat bird, it is also a reasonable layer. “Coming up, my dad did not steer me toward farming because he didn’t think that 200 acres would be profitable enough,” he said. History: George Ellis bred Barred Plymouth Rock Males with New Hampshire females. Plumage is nearly white with black feathers around the neck and tail and the bird is a rapid grower. Adopted on April 14, 1939, the Blue Hen chicken had long been used as a motif in numerous political campaigns and in many publications. Domestication of the chicken dates back to at least 2000 B.C. The two milestones: Arrival of the railroad in 1859 and the completion of Dupont Highway in 1923. Delaware Chicken Delawares, originally called “Indian Rivers,” were developed by George Ellis of Delaware in 1940 and were used for the production of broilers. He crossed the New Hampshire hens with the Barred Plymouth Rock roosters to create Delaware. After long searches on the internet for this magnificent breed we come to see a lack of information out there. Occasionally, this mating produces sports with light coloration. The breed was accepted into the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1952. The Delaware chicken originated in the USA. We also formed the Delaware Chicken facebook page (now known as "Delaware Club of America" page) just for the Delaware breed and have almost 200 members so far. “Delaware chicken goes around the world,” Satterfield said. “The soil and geography really have made a difference,” Kee said. The Delaware chicken breed is relatively modern. Slippery Dumplings. Delaware is already home to more than 200 million chickens every year. It is a temptation for farmers scraping by on modest incomes. The creation of the Delaware chicken was in many ways happenstance.It all started with the Rhode Island Red.As the Rhode Island Red breed was being refined for better eggs and meat, several white ‘sports’ were created.In the 1940s a fellow called George Ellis saw potential in these birds and started working with them. Typical is the Zitvogel farm in Bridgeville, now operated by the third generation since it was founded in the early 1900s. The breed originated from crosses of Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. These are not descended from the original hen; they were bred from birds donated by S. Hallock du Pont in the 1960s and more recently by the Delaware state veterinarian Wesley Towers. By mistake, the supplier sent her 500 chicks, 10 times more than she wanted. By 1925, she was raising 10,000 chickens a year and, in the process, stimulated a whole new poultry industry in Delaware. Delaware Chicken. In 1952, at about the same time as the American Poultry Association declared them an official breed, they found themselves replaced by th… He wanted a bird that would maintain good egg production but increase meat production too. At first, he named the breed Indian Rivers but later came to name them Delaware after the state they were created in. Delawares are a breed of chicken originating from the U.S. state of Delaware. The Delaware poultry industry also achieved another breakthrough in the early 1940s when George Ellis of Ocean View developed a new breed of … Both provided access to major new markets for Delaware farmers to the north and south. With males weighing 8.5 pounds and hens 6.5 pounds, the Delaware chicken is a medium sized breed. That from and after the passage of this Act the "Blue Hen Chicken" shall be and the same is hereby made the official bird of the State of Delaware. He markets some of his produce at the weekly farmers market in Milton. The Delaware is a dual purpose chicken with a single comb and a layer of brown eggs. On top of the fact the breed is nice and large, their white feathering makes them a good table bird. Known for providing the finest and freshest products available, Delaware Chicken Farm & Seafood Market has grown over several generations from a small chicken ranch to a thriving retail poultry, seafood & meat market. Delawares are a relatively recent breed. The lovely Delaware chicken was developed for the broiler industry in the United States. Through history, southern Delaware has, indeed, been a major producer of fruits and vegetables — for canning, freezing or resale to consumers. “I deliver to the restaurants myself because, often, the chef may have questions for me,” he said. Most of the processors contract with local farmers to raise their chickens. Delaware Agriculture Secretary Edward Kee said agriculture is a $1.3 billion industry annually, one that stimulates nearly $8 billion for the state economy. The "Blue Hen chicken" was designated the official state bird of Delaware April 14, 1939. 1900-1920: Chicken Meat Is a Delicacy. These chickens supplied eggs and an occasional chicken for Sunday or holiday dinner. Though Steele let her chickens roam in the barnyard, she and other poultry producers realized that moving the birds inside would allow them to be raised year-round. If you’re looking to get lots of eggs from your backyard flock, Delaware hens may be an excellent choice. Typical of the modern poultry operation is one run by Charles Postles of Milford. Indeed, the poultry industry is the backbone of a robust agricultural economy in Sussex County, where 45 percent of its land is still devoted to agriculture, much of it used to raise corn and soybeans for chicken production. 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