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 and meat. After 1923, however, poultry became economically important to Delmarva farmers. The marketing of broilers has since grown into one of the leading industries on the Peninsula.
The Ag Museum houses the original Cecile Steele Broiler House -- Where the Poultry Industry in Delaware started!
500 BABY CHICKS! The broiler industry began by accident in 1923. Cecile Steele of Ocean View, Delaware, ordered fifty chicks to provide eggs and meat for her family.
Due to a mix-up, Steele instead received five hundred Leghorn chicks. She housed the chicks in the now famous broiler house on display at the Museum. When the chicks were sixteen weeks old, weighing 2 1/4 pounds, Mrs. Steele sold them for 62 cents per pound to a local buyer who trucked the birds to city markets. By 1926 she had 10,000 birds, and the broiler industry was born.
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.