Click on any of the images to enlarge them 


  • 1950s The advent of lighting patterns and the need to save land & labour, leads to a rapid transition to indoor broiler production. It was soon found that the breath of the birds caused condensation and bad litter, so insulation was introduced in the houses to such an extent that by the 1960s most broiler houses were better insulated than the houses in which the owners lived
  • 1950 Pat & Joan Hook purchase a field in Cote, Oxfordshire. Having installed a Western incubator in the garage of their home Shangri La and PD Hook was hatched!! They started producing 300 chicks per week
  • 1950 Pfizer researchers discover Terramycin (oxytetracycaline)
  • 1950 UK traditional breeders successfully lobby for regulations to protect “Britain’s world-beating breeds and crosses”
  • 1951 Jim Fairburn establishes Lincolnshire poultry business – LJ Fairburn & Sons with 150 white leghorns and £150 in cash
  • 1952 Fred Thacker (F.D Thacker Ltd) establishes a business initially processing spent hens before moving into broiler processing in the early 60s
  • 1952 Pfizer establishes its Agricultural Division
  • 1952 The first British Turkey Federation Conference is held in Harrogate
  • 1953 Feed rationing, including eggs ends, thereby enabling poultry production to increase as prior to this large scale poultry production was not possible as the feedstuffs for the birds were not available
  • 1953 Broilers were introduced to UK
  • 1953 First serious attempts to emulate the already established USA system of broiler growing are made by Geoffrey Sykes and his partner Fred Finz who use old army huts in Wiltshire for floor fattening
  • 1953 Kilco established as a family business
  • 1953 British Poultry Federation/BOCM Silcock Poultry Person of the year (PPOTY) award inaugurated
  • 1953 The US broiler industry output reaches an estimated 900 million birds a year
  • 1953 A competition is launched in Poultry World to find a nicer name than the ugly American name – broiler. But no suitable alternative name was ever agreed.
  • 1953 The estimated UK capita consumption of poultry (mainly hen) meat is 6lb per year
  • 1953 Wheat prices rise to £23 and imported maize to £32 per ton
  • 1953 Poultry meat in the UK is considered a scarce high priced product only eaten in hotels or at home on special occasions
  • 1953 BOCM serve the new broiler – barbecued over a charcoal fire to visitors attending an open day at Stoke Mandeville
  • 1953 Poultry Person of the year: First recipient – Dr Harold Temperton
  • 1950s Following the discovery of several vitamins to improvements, feed formulations became possible, particularly after poultry mash taken was off rationing in 1952
  • 1950s Pat and Joan Hook join the Anglian Group and start growing the American Cobb
  • 1954 Poultry world absorbs the journal – Poultry
  • 1953 Harper Adams erects its first broiler unit
  • 1954 Hockenhull Turkeys established by Hugh Arnold (right)
  • 1954 US scientists perfect a technique to extend the storage life of cockerel semen from 0.5-1.5 hours to 5-6 hours.
  • 1954 Dr Rupert Coles of NAAS (now ADAS) estimates that output at 15-20 million birds
  • 1954 Poultry Person of the year: Major Ian McDougal
  • 1954 BOCM Silcock produce the first commercial broiler feed in the UK – Table Poultry Crumbs and a corresponding Mash
  • 1955 Cobb introduce white feathered White Plymouth Rocks to US broiler breeder market
  • 1955 Public barbecues are set up by the NEPP (National Egg and Poultry Publicity) to promote chicken to the UK public with large events held at Brighton, Royal Highland Show and Olympia
  • 1955 W.A. Motley learns to produce turkeys in volume by raising the birds off the ground using field arks (right)
  • 1955 Poultry Person of the year: Mr RG Chalmers Watson (right)
  • 1956 Cobb Pedigreed Chicks make their debut at the Atlanta poultry show
  • 1956 Growers get together and form the BBGA (British Broiler Growers Association)
  • 1956 Calor Gas start bulk delivery service installing 100-gallon tanks on broiler units
  • 1956 First giant feed hoppers appear
  • 1956 Thames Valley Eggs amalgamate with Wiltshire Poultry Farms 
  • 1956 Milford testing station announce the start of broiler trials to assess available strains
  • 1956 Neata introduce Powervent at Olympia allowing variable fan control to be practised for the first time
  • 1956 The British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) is founded as an active non-territorial division of the British Veterinary Association. Its membership is open to poultry veterinarians and scientists working with poultry. The objective of the BVPA is to further the knowledge of its members, who are drawn from academia, research, commerce and practice, by holding educational and technical meetings. This is achieved by holding three meetings (winter, spring and summer) a year. (right)
  • 1956 John Eastwood (later Sir John Eastwood), following visits to see the fledgling broiler industry in the USA, starts commercial broiler growing at Bilsthorpe, Nottinghamshire. First results achieved were 4lbs live weight in 11 weeks. The integrated poultry meat and egg empire he built up was eventually sold to Imperial Group in 1978
  • 1956 A bulk broiler feed delivery service using 6 ton capacity lorries is inaugurated (above)
  • 1956 Ross register the name Chunky Chicks (Nichols) Ltd, based in Newbridge near Edinburgh, Scotland. The aim is to breed and promote broilers, The Chunky broiler was recognized as the first purpose-bred broiler to be used in this country (right)
  • 1956 Poultry Person of the year: Dr RF Gordon (right)
  • 1950s (late) With lighting to remove seasonality now thoroughly understood and widely exploited. Indoor housing increases in popularity
  • 1957 The British Egg Marketing Board is set up with the aim of bringing stability to the market so that egg producers could get the best possible returns and consumers could be provided with a regular supply of high quality, home-produced eggs at reasonable prices. The BEMB obtained its funds from three sources: egg sales, Government subsidy and income from taxes which egg producers had to pay. Under the BEMB, ‘first quality’ eggs were required by law to be stamped to show their grade and with a number that could be used to locate the packing station from which the eggs originated. To this, the BEMB added its own trademark – a Lion. The ‘Little Lion’ became a well-known symbol, popular with consumers, and appeared regularly on advertising and promotional material throughout the BEMB’s lifetime. British egg producers with more than 50 hens had to be registered, and the BEMB was obliged to accept for sale all eggs offered to it. The BEMB also introduced the advertising slogan “Go to Work on an Egg” and it featured in TV ads with comedian Tony Hancock. The slogan developed into one of the most popular and memorable advertising campaigns of the time and helped egg consumption increase by 14% between 1957 and 1970
  • 1957 Gumboro Disease (Infectious Bursal Diseases Virus) (IBDV) discovered in Gumboro, Delaware USA (right)
  • 1957 The British Turkey Federation Limited is registered on the 30th July with a registered office in London
  • 1957 Western Incubators start to produce cabinet incubators in East Hanningfield with technical help from “Chickmaster” USA (right)
  • 1957 Glenrath Farms is conceived by John & Cathy Campbell following their wedding with a purchase of 300 day old chicks
  • 1957 National broiler output estimated to be 40-50 million birds
  • 1957 Poultry Person of the year: Miss E Kidd
  • 1958 Broiler production – 1.9kg in 70 days approx
  • 1958 British Poultry Growers Association estimate annual output to be 60 million broilers
  • 1958 Arbor Acres (USA) incorporates Associated Broiler Breeders at East Hanningfield. Later to be renamed Arbor Acres UK. The partners are – John Ogier of Essex Poultry Packers, Eric and Guy Reed of Yorkshire Poultry Packers. General manager Mr Derek Kelly
  • 1958 Associated Broiler Breeders formed in East Hanningfield
  • 1958 Shrink wrapping is introduced
  • 1958 Egg production – estimated at 240 eggs per bird per year
  • 1958 Sir Joseph Nickerson establishes Cherry Valley Farms Ltd
  • 1958 Poultry Person of the year: Mr R Coles
  • 1959 Colborn is established
  • 1959 Hendrix Genetics is formed by Harry Hendrix
  • 1959 The first British Turkey Conference is held at the Cairn Hydro in Harrogate
  • 1959 Brine freezing introduced
  • 1959 World Veterinary Poultry Association Founded (right)
  • 1959 Poultry Person of the year: Mr CG May
  • 1959 Chunky Chicks (Nichols Ltd) produces 75 million broilers in Newbridge (below)
Mr Hugh Arnold
Turkey Farm – circa 1950’s

Mr RG Chalmers Watson


Dr RF Gordon

Gumboro, Delaware USA

Smithfield Market

Turkey hatchery of Bradley Bros, Hampshire 144 Glevum Incubators

Chunky Chicks Delivery Van Fleet
Chunky Chicks Delivery Van
Chunky Chicks Dispatch

What next? The rest is history!

If you have any memories of key moments we have missed, or any errors in the details we have included, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. With your help we can get get this section as clear, concise and accurate as possible.