Celebrating 100 years

Murray McMurray Hatchery holds event to honor a century of business

—Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Adri Sietstra Murray McMurray Hatchery Vice President Tom Watkins walks open house attendees through the incubation process Saturday afternoon at the 100th anniversary celebration. Community members were invited to an open house and hatchery tours.

Members of the community flocked to the Murray McMurray Hatchery on Saturday in celebration of the business’s 100-year anniversary.

Attendees were able to tour the hatchery, ask questions about the business and enjoy light refreshments. This was a special treat because normally the facility is off limits to the public for health and safety reasons.

“A lot of people want to see the hatchery but because of biosecurity reasons we can’t let them in when we have birds and eggs in-house,” said Murray McMurray Hatchery Vice President Tom Watkins. “Now we’re clean for the winter and it’s a good time for everyone to come and see what we do.”

Former employees were welcomed back for an appreciation night also. Current and former employees were able to sign a large banner at the event. The banner, which spanned 1917-2017, was signed by employees during the time period they worked for McMurray’s. As the day went on, more and more signatures from local citizens donned the banner.

Watkins credited the community of Webster City for helping them get to the 100-year mark. “We feel like we’re a big part of the community just by being in the community,” Watkins said.

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Murray McMurray Hatchery Vice President Tom Watkins speaks with community members about the history of the hatchery on Saturday afternoon at Murrary McMurray Hatchery. In honor of the Webster City business celebrating 100 years, the public was invited to an open house and able to tour the facility.

Watkins explained that many local youths worked at the hatchery part-time in their high school years.

“Having maintained 100 years, there aren’t families in town who haven’t worked here,” Watkins said. “This was a very supportive job… there are generations of kids that we have seen grow up in the years.”

The century-old business is well-know across the country for their chicks. The hatchery collects their eggs from local farms and brings them to the facility to incubate and hatch. These chicks, which come in 100 different breeds, are sold across the country and the world.

According to Watkins, the hatchery ships out nearly 100,000 birds a week.

Today ducklings, goslings, guinea keats, turkey poults, peafowl, and game birds are hatched and shipped through the mail. Orders for poultry books, medicine, incubators, hatching eggs, equipment, and other poultry related products are shipped daily from the hatchery.

According to the McMurray Hatchery website, for 74 years, McMurray Hatchery operated at 609 Ohio St. in Webster City. In 1991 the new hatchery was built, a 26,000 square foot building. The entire hatching operation is now state-of-the-art.

The hatchery area is broken into five parts. The facility houses five separate rooms for egg storage and preparation, setting (incubation), hatching, washing /clean up, and a workroom.

With a full century now under the business’s belt, Watkins thanked the community for their support.

“We’re just are really lucky to have such a great crew,” said Watkins.

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