On September 10th 2018 Georgie Cartanza came to the University of Delaware as a guest speaker for AGRI 130. Before hearing all the facts about the Delmarva Poultry industry form Georgie, I had no idea how important and interesting the Poultry industry was. To start, I didn’t realize that the Delmarva Poultry industry included three counties in the state of Delaware, 6 counties in the state of Maryland, and 1 county in the state of Virginia. Delmarva has ten processing plants, thirteen hatcheries, and ten feed mills. Next I learned that the Delmarva poultry industry produces around to 605 million birds in a single year. That is about 10% of the national production. This industry is worth in the billions and provides roughly 14500 poultry employees with a job. I was also happy to learn that the industry was constantly changing to improve the welfare of the birds. They have been incorporating automatic pan feeders, nipple waterer, tunnel ventilation, and proper heating to increase the welfare of the birds. Overall I was very happy with what Georgie had to say and can’t wait learn more on our field trip.
During Georgie’s presentation, before we went on the first field trip to her poultry farm, she gave a brief overview of historical points such as the Steele family’s market that began to grow young meat birds for the consumers. Growing up, I was always aware that a chicken was slaughtered in order for me to eat my meal but the history of how the meat production company began was new to me entirely and I really liked learning about the historical aspect. Additionally, the Delmarva area produces 6% of the National Production (566 Million birds annually) which is a lot of birds being bred, raised, and processed but makes sense because Georgie mentioned that having so many jobs available to the community is beneficial so the more work, the more jobs available to support more employees- a very important aspect in the agriculture field. Georgie’s exact words, “For every 1 job in the poultry industry, it creates 7 jobs in the community.” These jobs branch from the processing plants, the hatcheries, and to the feed mills.
Something else I was not aware of was that this process is “vertically integrated” which means the industry has complete control over all steps of production. Meaning, there is a company/ grower contract that entails the company provides: chicks, feed, litter, health supplies, etc… Whereas the grower (farmer) provides: housing, labor to raise said chicks, electric for heating/conditioning, and overhead.
I also learned that another well known grower of chicken products such as Purdue began their operation in 1920 through the efforts of Frank Perdue. I’ve always seen this name in the market when shopping for a chicken product but never knew the history of the company until I started this class. Overall, there are so many interesting facts about the poultry field that Georgie brought to my attention that I felt I absorbed all of the information she shared because it was new and enriching to my agricultural studies.