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Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. Here's what you'll find here:

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Background photo of the beach at Whale Cove was made by Bryce Buchanan in 2004. (Via WikiMedia Commons, cc/by/SA)

 

 

CORVALLIS, BENTON COUNTY; 1910s, 1920s:

OSU’s world-record hen sparked a fowl feud

Audio version: Download MP3 or use controls below:
By Finn J.D. John
September 1, 2021

OCTOBER OF 1913 was a triumphant time for Professor James Dryden, the poultry specialist at Oregon State University (or Oregon Agricultural College, as it was then called). His name was in newspapers nationwide, in glowing tribute after glowing tribute to his success.

One of his experiment-station hens, the prosaically named C-521 (later renamed Lady MacDuff), had just shattered the world record for egg production with a stunning 303 eggs in a year, breaking the 300-egg barrier for the first time ever. The highest-producing non-Oregon chicken, prior to C-521’s feat, was a Canadian bird that laid 281 eggs in 12 months. This was at a time when the average chicken laid 75.

Poultry professor James Dryden as he appeared in the late 1910s. (Image: Oregon State University)

There was, however, one exception to the “glowing tribute” pattern in newspaper coverage of Dr. Dryden’s work. That would be the weekly Cottage Grove Leader.

“In our opinion, Prof. Dryden is impracticable, out of harmony with the country’s best and most successful poultry breeders, is discouraging the great and growing poultry industry of the state and is therefore out of place at the head of the Department of Poultry Husbandry in our great educational and experimental institution, the Oregon Agricultural College,” the Leader’s editor raged, in the Oct. 28 issue. “We would suggest, in conclusion, that he tender his resignation.”

 

This article is still under its initial two-month embargo, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it. Then, on June 11, 2021, the rest of this article will appear here!

In the meantime, you can probably find it published on the Website of one of our member newspapers or community radio stations. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

(Jump to top of next column)

OAC Chicken No. C-521, a.k.a. Lady MacDuff, the world’s first 300-egg hen, a white leghorn-barred rock cross. (Image: Orange Judd Co.)


(Sources: “Corvallis chicken sets 1913 world record,” an article by Kristine Deacon posted July 1, 2021, on the Oregon State Archives Facebook page; Poultry Breeding and Management, a book by James Dryden published in 1916 and 1920 by Orange Judd Co.; archives of Cottage Grove Leader, Cottage Grove Sentinel, Portland Morning Oregonian, Oregon Journal, Medford Mail Tribune, and Capitol Journal, 1908-1915)

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