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Celebrating the Women of the Chicken Industry This International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the work of the untiring women leaders who work 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.

From 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 a 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.

The commercial broiler chicken industry was pioneered by women

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.

Hear from the women inspiring the next generation of chicken farmers

Learn how these women got their start in chicken farming and what they love about the work that they do.

Jenell Eck, sixth generation chicken farmer from Maryland: “I grew up working on the farm alongside my father and brother. I started with little jobs on the farm such as walking the houses, setting up houses and riding in equipment – and I have gained the responsibility to do more tasks on my own. Today I am able to care for the birds on my own and run most pieces of equipment.”

Jenny Rhodes, chicken farmer and agriculture educator: “My parents taught all of us to work on the farm as well as in our home. Agriculture has always been a very important aspect of my life… I always wanted to own and operate my own farm and the poultry industry gave me that opportunity…I am a proud chicken farmer of 30 years and still counting.”

Jennifer, chicken farmer from Mississippi: “What is not to love about owning your own farm and raising healthy, safe and affordable food? I love that as a single mom I have taught my sons how to farm and today they both own their own chicken farms.”

Are you looking for more ways women are impacting the agriculture industry? Check out these groups supporting women in agriculture.