Chickens have been important to the Delmarva Peninsula since the first settlers brought the ancestors of the modern-day chicken with them to Delaware’s shores. Between the seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, families in the country and in the city raised just enough chickens to meet their needs for eggs to eat those needed to trade for other goods and services.
50 BABY CHICKS
The broiler industry began by accident in 1923. Cecile Steele of Ocean View, Delaware, ordered fifty chicks (biddies) to raise layer hens and provide fresh eggs for her family. Due to a mix-up, Mrs.Steele instead received five hundred chicks. She housed them in the now famous broiler house on display at the museum. When the biddies were sixteen weeks old, Mrs. Steele sold them for 62 cents per pound to a local buyer who trucked the birds to New York City for processing and sale. By 1926 she had 10,000 birds.
Cecile Steele’s 16' x 16' shed was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 3, 1974. William R. Murray donated the building to the Delaware Agricultural Museum.