More history of chickens in Cobb County: Smyrna’s thriving 1911 poultry industry

A cartoon drawing of a rooster, two hens, two chicks, and a hatchling along with a drawing of a chicken coop.

Backyard chicken lovers and poultry enthusiasts are in for a treat today. We’re running another article on the history of poultry farming in Cobb County. The one we published earlier today was about a 1907 poultry show.

In our continuing research on the Georgia Historic Newspaper site, we found this article from the March 11, 1911 issue of the Atlanta Georgian highlighting Smyrna’s chicken industry.

The Atlanta Georgian and News—Poultry, Pet, and Livestock Section.

Smyrna Grew Around the Chicken Industry

Finest Plant in Dixie a Few Miles From Atlanta on Marietta Trolley—Worth a Day of Anyone’s Time.

By Claude B. Nealy

Smyrna, Ga., Feb. 4.—The chicken hatches a town. Incredible, impossible, you will no doubt exclaim. But, nevertheless, it is a fact—even though startling. Actual evidence can be found right here. In fact, Smyrna itself is the evidence.

This beautiful little town of 1,000 inhabitants, situated 18 miles from Atlanta, on the Western and Atlantic and the Atlanta Northern Interurban railways, can trace its present prosperity and progress directly to the chicken—literally built upon the fine-feathered fowl, as it were.

In other words, Smyrna, as its leading citizens agree, owes its rapid and substantial growth of the past few years to the chicken industry—to the marvelous success of Belmont Farm. This celebrated farm, which is now devoted practically exclusively to chicken raising and which is known the country over for its fine fowls and heavy egg production, lies half a mile north of Smyrna in a beautiful section of rolling country and bordered on all sides by a picturesque landscape. It is recognized as the finest poultry plant in the South today and, for that matter, one of the greatest in the entire United States. Its fame has spread far and wide, and wherever there is a chicken fancier, there you will find a person who cherishes and prizes the products of Belmont Farm. And it is this farm that has made the hustling town of Smyrna.

Proud of the Farm The people of the little town are proud of Belmont Farm and are enthusiastic over its success. For they expect still greater things in Smyrna, and they feel that the fame of this magnificent poultry plant will continue in the future as it has in the past, to exert its magical influence in the attainment of this further growth.

When Belmont Farm was founded, eleven years ago, Smyrna was counted in the list of “unknowns” and was what might be termed a mere “stopping place in the road.” The inhabitants numbered something like 300, perhaps less. Then it was that his kingship, the rooster, began his remarkable reign. Today, less than a dozen years from that significant date, Smyrna boasts of a happy, prosperous, and progressive population of 1,000 or more, with eight first-class stores, besides markets, and a handsome bank in course of construction. And not only this, but it has a splendid public school, attended by 200 pupils.

That the chicken industry is the basis for this phenomenal development is clearly evident from the assertion that fully 95 per cent of the total population was attracted to Smyrna, magnet-like, by Belmont Farm. Smyrna, with no other particular drawing qualities, would no doubt still be nothing more than a breathing place for locomotives had it not been for the far-reaching splendor of Belmont’s fowls. All of which goes to show that the chicken is to be not merely a delicious viand for the table, or a money-producer for the fancier. Its power is more extensive—it is destined to become a magnificent developer—a builder of cities.

Mr. Brown’s Work The splendid proportions attained by Belmont Farm, its pronounced success in chicken breeding, and its greater possibilities, already looming in the future, are due to the ginger-like energy, untiring efforts, and tenacity of its manager, Loring Brown. Mr. Brown has made a life study of the chicken and the poultry industry. With an inborn love for chickens, Mr. Brown is never happier than when mingling with his prize birds and thousands of other fine fowls. He associates with them day after day and finds it an intense pleasure. Priding himself on his superb stock of fowls, nothing is too good for them. They get the best and they get it freely, too. Thoroughly acquainted with every feature of the poultry business, down to its minutest detail, Mr. Brown can tell you anything you want to know about chickens—he has the complete history of the poultry game, extensive as it is, on the tip of his tongue.

By reason of his unlimited knowledge, Mr. Brown is constantly consulted by fanciers all over the country and is frequently asked to act as judge in poultry shows. And, with it all, he is clever. This land originally was bought by Col. Wight at $100 an acre, and Mr. Morris paid $75 an acre for it three years later. Mr. Brown had the agency for the sale of this land and got a good commission for making the trade. Mr. Brown was then in the dairy business and made all his expenses by selling milk.

The land was the poorest kind of worn-out fields and no one could be found to give more than $50 an acre for it. Mr. Brown told Mr. Morris he would guarantee him the sale of a section of the land in three years’ time at $300 an acre. Mr. Morris bought the land and Mr. Brown went to work at once to get the people to buy the land. He managed to get about 20 families from the cotton states of Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina to come there and engage in dairying. They paid from $3,000 to $7,000 for a 10-acre plot. Mr. Brown managed to get Mr. Morris to plant this land in orchards at his expense, he taking the risk of the sale. The land was so poor that it would not grow a field pea.

Three years passed, and sure enough, the land sold for $300 an acre. The people paid the $300 an acre for the land in three years to Mr. Morris and the cotton was all out of the land and it was ready for the orchard. Mr. Morris paid Mr. Brown a good commission on the land and the deal was closed. Thus was the start of the biggest poultry farm in the United States. The dairy business was abandoned, and the people took to raising chickens, and the old, worn-out fields became the most productive land in the section.

The present farm contains 36 acres. Mr. Brown having systematized his business in such a way as to render it more compact, more easily accessible in all details, and reduce the necessity for greater acreage. More than 3,000 laying hens inhabit these 36 acres. A reporter for The Georgian, accompanied by The Georgian’s staff photographer, spent several hours on the farm, and thru the hospitality of Mr. Brown was shown thru the entire plant and every feature and detail explained, which, it might be added, affords as much or more interest and enjoyment as the same length of time spent in a regulation poultry show.

For here you see prize-winning chickens of all descriptions—birds that have won ribbons and trophies in some of the greatest shows ever held in this country. Altho half a mile beyond Smyrna, the visitor to the farm can alight from the interurban trolley directly in front of the farm at the station of Belmont. Approaching the farm, the visitor is first greeted on the right by an extensive alfalfa field, reminding one of scenes in southern California. Mr. Brown is partial to alfalfa and urges that the farmers of Georgia would do well to plant more of it. Inside of the reservation is found a model and up-to-date poultry plant. There are 27 buildings, conveniently grouped, including Mr. Brown’s handsome new two-story brick residence, sixteen colony houses, a main chicken house, and other essential structures.

The main building contains 115 rooms, with a capacity of 2,000 grown birds. It is so scientifically constructed that the sun shines in every room at some time during the day and every room is thoroughly ventilated. “Chickens must have plenty of sun and fresh air,” said Mr. Brown in explaining the construction of this building. The arrangement of the building is such that all of the feeding, watering, cleaning, and gathering of eggs—all of which appears a considerable job—can be done by one man. Directly behind this building are the “runs,” which permit the birds even greater fresh air freedom than in the building.

Finest of Poultry In this building can be seen probably the greatest outfit of fine fowls to be found anywhere. The majority of the pens of breeding birds contain prize winners, have produced prize winners, or the direct descendants of prize winners. Here are to be seen handsome White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and Indian Runner ducks, all by the hundred. Each class represents the finest of stock: in fact, you see nothing but fine stock on this farm.

Mr. Brown attributes his great success to the careful and studious mating and breeding of his fowls. “My stock now is more than 100 percent better than when I started in this business,” said Mr. Brown. “I have lost no chance of improving the breed and the result is plainly evident. I have always had three important points in view in mating and breeding my chickens—first, to make them heavy egg producers; second, to give them a good constitution, and, third, to develop fancy show points.”

With his long list of prize winners, Mr. Brown has won the remarkable distinction of having captured more than $10,000 in premiums within the past ten years—this in competition with the world’s best. On one occasion, Mr. Brown entered 53 of his ribbon bringers in a monster poultry show in St. Louis, in which 10,000 birds competed. When the awards were made, Mr. Brown brought away 38 ribbons. So proud is he of this great showing that he has had the ribbons framed and they are displayed on the wall in one of the rooms of his residence. If all of Mr. Brown’s prize ribbons were put together, they would cover a high building.

The products of the farm are shipped to all parts of the United States, and because of the great demand being made on the farm Mr. Brown is planning to double his incubator and brooder capacity within the next season. The capacity of the buildings will also be increased to accommodate just three times as many fowls as at present.

The Incubator Colony The incubator feature of the farm is one of its most interesting. Twenty large machines are kept in operation during the hatching season—January, February, March, and a part of April—thousands of eggs being in the machines all the while.

After the chickens are hatched they are removed to the brooder house, which is heated with hot water, and remain there until they are two months old. The little chicks are then taken to the colony houses, about 300 to each house, where they have free range, fresh running water, and plenty of growing alfalfa. They are here hopper fed, with the best of feed.

The principal feed consists of oats, alfalfa, wheat, and corn. When the pullets begin laying they are then removed to the main laying house, where they are kept until sold, producing eggs by the hundred every day. The eggs are shipped to all sections of the country.

One customer alone, Mr. Brown says, bought more than $3,000 worth of eggs last season, and will order a greater amount this season. The total sales of eggs last year netted more than $8,000, more than 50 per cent of which were sold for hatching purposes. A setting of eggs ranges in price from $3 to $5, and for $15 you can get a trio of fine chickens—all of which means that for this small sum you buy and get the benefit of Mr. Brown’s lifetime experience.

Mr. Brown originally conducted the largest dairy and owned the largest herd of Berkshire hogs in the South, but finding the poultry business far more profitable, he is rapidly abandoning these features. At one time, 188 cows were milked on the farm. Mr. Brown has sold all of his hogs to Dr. W. B. Hardman, of Commerce, and has disposed of a large percentage of his cattle.

“The chicken is the thing,” says Mr. Brown.

About Georgia Historic Newspapers

Georgia Historic Newspapers is a part of the GALILEO project and is housed at the University of Georgia. It’s an amazing resource for anyone with an interest in the history of Georgia and its regions.

According to the “About” page on its website:

The Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), a part of Georgia’s Virtual Library GALILEO and is based at the University of Georgia Libraries. Since 2007, the DLG has partnered with universities, archives, public libraries, historical societies, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions to digitize historical newspapers from around the state. The archive is free and open for public use and includes over two million Georgia newspaper pages between 1763 and 2021.

Newspaper titles are regularly digitized and added to the archive. If you are interested in including a particular title, you can visit our participation page. A majority of the newspapers on this site were digitized from the microfilm produced by the Georgia Newspaper Project (GNP). For more information about the microfilm available through the GNP, please visit their website.