The History of Meyer Hatchery, Vol 1

There are moments in everyone’s lives where an everyday occurrence can change the entire course. We don’t often realize that we are in those life-altering moments until we take a look back. I recently had an opportunity to look back with Karen Meyer, owner and founder of Meyer Hatchery.

Shortly after they were married, Karen and her husband Dewey purchased a small farm in Polk, Ohio and began to raise a family. At this time, Dewey worked on Karen’s parents’ dairy farm located just a few miles north of Polk. Karen was a young wife and mother of very small children when she started her poultry hobby by purchasing a few chicks at a local feed store’s Chick Days event. Shortly thereafter, Karen found a poultry mentor in Mrs. Clarence Uhl, owner of Uhl’s Hatchery in Wooster, Ohio. When Mrs. Uhl began thinking about retirement in the early-1980’s, Karen purchased her first breeder flock and incubators from Mrs.Uhl as she liquidated her business and closed Uhl’s Hatchery. Even to this day, Karen reminisces with fondness about her first flocks of World’s Fair Reds and Ohio Beauties that she purchased from Mrs.Uhl to begin what would become Meyer Hatchery.

meyer hatchery blog worlds fair reds chicken

1956 promotional calendar from Uhls Hatchery featuring the Ohio Beauties breed

From that beginning in 1985 to 1999, Meyer Hatchery operated from Karen and Dewey’s farm in Polk. The layer flocks consisted of 4 different breeds totaling around 1000 hens on the farm. Karen also purchased a variety of hatching eggs from local farmers to supplement her selection to customers. Each week, approximately 2000 chicks hatched and were sold to customers both locally and by mail. For the first decade, Meyer Hatchery was very much a family business. Dewey spent the majority of his time working on the dairy farm while Karen, their four children and Karen’s parents worked to do farm chores, set eggs, make pick-ups and deliveries to keep the new business growing. Karen gives much credit to her parents for the support they offered during the early years of Meyer Hatchery.

meyer hatchery blog early 2000 group photo team

The entire Meyer Hatchery team in the early years

In 1993, the Meyer family moved onto Karen’s childhood family farm north of Polk. The move made Dewey’s work at the dairy easier, but it meant that Karen was managing the fledgling Meyer Hatchery from a short distance. In 1999, Meyer Hatchery moved to its current location, making overseeing easier and offered approximately 10 different breeds of chickens.

meyer hatchery blog history vol 1 catalog

An early Meyer Hatchery catalog and information tracking system. All orders were written by hand in a notebook before the computer-age made the entire system more efficient.

In the next installment about the history of Meyer Hatchery, we will discuss how Meyer Hatchery grew in many areas during the early part of the 21st century. Stay tuned!

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