UMD Chickens To the Rescue!!

The University of Maryland played a valuable role in saving the European poultry industry following World War II.  The war had ravaged the European countryside, including its farms, and there was little left to rebuild.  The United States was aware of this and instituted The Marshall Plan to boost the Europe’s economy and agriculture.  Part of the plan required poultry chickens to be brought to Europe, which is where the University of Maryland stepped in to assist.

Feeding chickens at UMD, c.1950s.
Feeding chickens at UMD, c.1950s. From the Morley Jull papers, http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1730.

The University of Maryland had a large agriculture department that included a renowned poultry-husbandry program.  On April 23rd 1945, the Department of Agriculture and the University agreed to begin shipping eggs overseas to help repopulate the devastated European poultry population.  Dr. Morley Jull, head of the poultry department at the University, expressed his optimism regarding the quality of Maryland’s program, over previous egg imports from Latin America, in the Washington Post on April 24th 1945.  Dr. Jull’s opinion came true the following month, when the University recorded a record number of chicks, most of which were sent to meet Europe’s demands.

Chicken coops at UMD, c. 1950s.
Chicken coops at UMD, c. 1950s. From the Morley Jull papers, http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1730.

The egg delivery component of the Marshall Plan was so successful that in 1952 an Austrian-Marshall Plan propaganda film, titled Hansel and the 200,000 Chicks, was based around the newly revived poultry industry, and featured eggs that may very well have originated on the University of Maryland campus.  To see what a similar poultry promotional film from the era looks like, watch this “Chicken of Tomorrow” clip on YouTube.

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