Alluring Chickens.

first_imgWhen Thomas Whiting left theUniversity of Georgia in 1982 with his master’s in poultry science,few knew how high he would let his education fly.Today, Whiting is president of WhitingFarms in Delta, Co. where more than 100,000 chicken pass througheach year. But none make it to the processing plant, and he doesn’traise them for eggs.The Secret’s in theFeathersWhiting raises chickens just for their feathers. And fly fishermenacross the world are glad he does.Called hackles in fly-fishing circles, the feathers are usedto make lures. The farm raises specially bred chickens for theirfly-tying feathers. He also raises a few black-meated meat chickens,some Junglefowl and about a half dozen pheasant species crosses.Through breeding, selection and other scientific methods, feathersare created that resemble the colors and textures of insects thatattract fish.Genetics is the Keyto His SuccessAfter graduating from UGA, Whiting went to the University ofArkansas and earned a doctorate in poultry genetics. He then foundedthe company that allows him to combine his education and his passion- big business.The farm casts out more than 2,200 different types of fishingproducts each year. Current sales are just under $4 million andgrowing. “I expect continued steady growth,” Whitingsaid, “maybe up to 250,000 birds per year in five years.”Worldwide HacklesIn April 1989, Whiting hatched out his first Hoffman chicks,from which Whiting Farms “Hoffman Hackle” has risento be the best and dominant hackle in the world market.In addition, Whiting created many new colors, 28 now and expanding.He also developed an “American Hackle” chicken linespecifically for salt water and salmon flies. In 1996, WhitingFarms added the number 2 quality genetic hackle stock known as”Herbert Hackle,” to complement its gene pool and productline.”We have now added further processing of some of our featherproducts in Mexico and Sri Lanka,” Whiting added.The Best in the MidwestLast year, Whiting Farms was named the Small Business Exporterof the Year by the Small Business Administration for Coloradoand SBA Region VIII which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montanaand North and South Dakota. Whiting Farms also received the PioneerSpirit Award from the Delta Colorado Area Chamber of Commercerecognizing their rapid growth and contribution to the area economy.Whiting’s goal is to make Whiting Farms theproducer of quality fly-tying feathers in the world, and theyare well on their way. Whiting Farms sells their feathers worldwidewith Japan as their largest single foreign market. Canada, Europe,Australia and New Zealand also buy considerable quantities. Inall, Whiting Farms sells products to 30 countries and 46 states.(Photographs courtesy of Whiting Farms.)last_img

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