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Celebrating Women’s History Month with Women of the Chicken Industry!

On March 8th we all celebrated International Women’s Day, but since 1987, March has been celebrated as Women’s History Month, and so, we are celebrating the work of the untiring women leaders who have worked hard to help develop our industry, while still working hard each day to keep food on America’s dinner tables. Women have been integral to agriculture, and our nation’s food supply chain, since the beginning. Their work continues to drive the chicken industry forward.

According to the National Chicken Councilfrom farmers to processing plant workers to veterinarians and everywhere in between, the chicken industry wouldn’t be nearly as productive as it is today without the commitment of the diligent women in agriculture.  And it’s not just a few women contributing to the health of the industry, more than one-third of farmers in the U.S. are women and over half of farms have at least one female decision-maker, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, female-led farms have almost tripled in the U.S. since 1982.

Did you know?!

Mrs. Wilmer Steele of Sussex County, Delaware, is often credited for laying the groundwork for the commercial broiler industry. In 1923, she raised a flock of 500 chicks intended to be sold for meat.  Her little business was so profitable that, by 1926, Mrs. Steele was able to build a broiler house with a capacity of 10,000 birds.

Mrs. Steele Pioneers a Path Forward

Following Mrs. Steele’s success, chicken meat production  – previously a subsidiary of the egg industry –  began with the developmentof the broiler – a chicken raised specifically for its meat. Broiler production started in locations such as the Delmarva Peninsula, Georgia, Arkansas, and New England. Factors in the geographic expansion of the industry included: favorable weather conditions, adequate land and water, and access to supplies of corn and soybeans.


The National Broiler Council is Formed. Specially bred meat chickens (“broilers”) surpassed farm chickens as the number one source of chicken meat in the United States. By mid-decade, the industry is experiencing a slump and the National Broiler Council is organized to stimulate consumer demand, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. From the outset, NBC represented all segments of the industry, and decision-making was shared by producers, hatcheries, feed companies, and processors. Each member company was assessed dues based on its production. NBC moved quickly to launch national promotion programs like Western Ranch Dinner, “Chicken: The Food of the Future, and “Chicken is a Wise Buy.”


Courtesy of  the National Chicken Council //

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