Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA) has launched a year-long educational campaign, “Growing For 100 Years,” to celebrate the innovation and growth of the meat chicken industry, which began a century ago in Ocean View, Delaware.

Mike Brown speaks at the Delaware Ag Museum

To kick off the campaign, DCA and sponsors including the National Chicken Council hosted a launch event at the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover, Del. on Saturday, February 11. More than 150 industry leaders, innovators, farmers, lawmakers and officials attended to mark the occasion.

Delaware’s congressional delegation of U.S. Senators Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) honored this milestone in a Congressional Record Statement. NCC President Mike Brown delivered remarks at the event.

“Chicken producers’ positive economic impact stretches from coast to coast, hits every sector of the U.S. economy and is felt in every congressional district,” said Brown in DCA press release. “We’re also committed to environmentally responsible chicken production practices to ensure a healthier planet, and chicken production in the U.S. is more sustainable than ever before.”


Cecile Steele of Sussex County, Delaware pioneered the industry in 1923 when she accidentally received a shipment of 500 chickens. This prompted her and her husband, Wilmer, to build the first broiler chicken farm on Delmarva. Within three years, this Delaware family had built coops for 10,000 chickens and jumpstarted an American innovation – a farm dedicated to raising chickens not for eggs, but to eat.

Since that first broiler chicken flock in 1923, the industry has made remarkable advances, giving generations of family farmers a way to make a living from the land, serving as the backbone of Delmarva’s economy, and protecting the environment by utilizing fewer resources to produce more chicken. Today, there are more than 1,300 family farmers on Delmarva, more than 18,000 chicken company employees, and hundreds of allied businesses in the chicken community, working together to produce $4.5 billion worth of chicken a year.

“Cecile Steele’s inspired idea 100 years ago has impacted not only the Delmarva region, but America and the world,” said DCA Executive Director Holly Porter. “This campaign is about paying tribute to the farmers, chicken companies, and allied businesses advancing the industry, and looking forward to the bright future ahead for the chicken community.”

A Bridgeville, Del. chicken farm in the 1920s. The first chicken flock raised for meat, not eggs, was done by Ocean View, Del.’s Cecile Steele in 1923. Photo: Delaware Public Archives