McMurray Hatchery welcomes first hatch of 2018

-Messenger photo by Adri Sietstra Bud Wood, president of Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, holds a small sampling of the first hatch of 2018.

WEBSTER CITY — After celebrating a century of business in 2017, Murray McMurray is back to work in 2018 for their 101st year of hatching and selling poultry across the United States.

Monday morning was the business’s first hatch of the new year.

“We’ve been in business for 101 years now. This is the first hatch. It’s always the last week in January when we have our first hatch,” said Murray McMurray Hatchery President Bud Wood.

Nearly 100 breeds are hatched each year at the Webster City hatchery. Birds are then shipped across the United States, Canada, and the Virgin Islands.

“We ship them almost anywhere,” Wood said.

The last hatch will be in late July, according to Wood.

“We have four contract breeder farms and one breeder farm of our own that we raise the hens on and collect the eggs,” Wood said. “We bring them to the hatchery and set them on our incubators.”

The chicks, which take 21 days to hatch, appeared early Monday morning.

“The chicks came out early this morning,” said Wood. “We started pulling about 6 a.m.”

The chicks were then separated into male and female. Once the separation process was done, birds began getting boxed up for shipping.

Requests for poultry are taken online and by phone and then placed into a computer program. The program will then print out the orders that need to be filled and birds will be sent across the states.

The birds are then vaccinated and inspected at quality control before being sent to their destination.

“We put postage on them and ship them out through the U.S. Mail,” Wood said. “Part of them go up to Minneapolis and get flown around the United States. Part of them go to Des Moines, for Iowa and the surrounding states.”

“We’re unique in if you want one of these and one of something else you can mix and match,” Wood said.

During the beginning of the year, the hatchery requires a minimum of 25 chicks be ordered.

“They need that many to stay warm in the box when we ship them,” explained Wood.

As temperatures warm up in the spring and summer, the minimum shipping amount drops to 15 birds per box.

According to Wood, an average order for the hatchery is 30 chicks.

As the busy season begins and the hatching process continues, Wood is excited to start off the 101st year at the hatchery.

“I think it’s quite an accomplishment for any business to go that long, the hatchery especially,” said Wood.

Wood credited the business’s century of business with continuing its work with rare and unique breeds. Some of these unique breeds include Andalusians, Dominiques, Golden Campines, White Laced Red Cornish and Phoenix breeds.

“The reason we’re in the position that we are today is that the founder, Murray McMurray, was always into the more rare and unusual breeds. When a lot of little hatcheries went more to the commercial breeds he kept going with the rare breeds,” Wood said. “That kind of established us and today, that’s what we’re known for, more of the rare stuff.”