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North Dakota Poultry


North Dakota is known as an agricultural state, a leader in the production of canola, corn, wheat, sunflowers, soybeans, and sugar beets. Beef cattle are also an important commodity, with the state home to more than 950,000 head. So, when it comes to North Dakota agriculture, chickens are not the first thing to come to mind.

On this date in 1907, the Hope Pioneer argued that chickens could be a valuable addition to agricultural production. At the time, a large number of eggs were shipped into the state every year. The newspaper saw this as an opportunity if more farmers understood the value of poultry production. The Agricultural College reported that they received several inquiries about chickens every year, suggesting that farmers did needed need more information. Professor J.H. Shepperd of the Agriculture College Experiment Station spent two years conducting experiments on raising chickens in North Dakota. The result of his work was a free bulletin about poultry that included a broad scope of information on breeding, feeding and housing. The article noted that hopeful chicken farmers could save themselves a great deal of trouble by requesting and reading the bulletin.

Some farmers took the advice to heart. In 1908, the Golden Valley Chronicle observed that poultry was a profitable undertaking. In 1909, the Jamestown Weekly Alert noted that while poultry was a luxury in many cities, “North Dakota is a natural poultry yard.” In 1915, the Dickinson Commercial Club sponsored a poultry show. The purpose of the show was “to assist in directing the attention of farmers to the systematic and scientific conduct of this line of work and the benefits it brings.” The club offered prizes in several categories of breeds.

In North Dakota today, turkeys are the most important poultry. North Dakota is only fortieth among states for poultry and egg production, but nineteenth in turkey production, with over a million birds raised annually.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Hope Pioneer. “Poultry Raising in North Dakota.” 12 December 1907. Page 1.

Dickinson Press. “Dickinson Commercial Club Offers Excellent Cash Prizes.” Dickinson, ND. 27 November 1915. Page 5.

Jamestown Weekly Alert. “The Independent Man.” 7 January 1909. Page 23.

Golden Valley Chronicle. “Profitable Poultry for N.D. Farmers. 3 April 1908. Page 5.

United States Department of Agriculture. “2016 State Agriculture Overview: North Dakota.” "" Accessed 11 November 2017.