Inside Whiting Farms’ Hackle Empire

Birds of the Feathers

The volume of a single rooster’s crow averages 90 decibels, about the same as a barking dog. So when I enter one of the barns at renowned hackle producer Whiting Farms where more than 3,000 roosters are kept in stack upon stack of looming microwave-sized cages, the sound is deafening. Every rooster in the place is a Labrador and I am the postman at the door.

“They’re telling you this is their territory,” says Tom Whiting, the operation’s owner, president and primary poultry geneticist. He started Whiting Farms in 1989 after purchasing eggs from Henry Hoffman, who at the time had a small hackle business on the Oregon coast specializing in striped black-and-white grizzly hackle. The eggs were from the Hoffman Hackle line of birds and the barred feathers they produced were the starting point from which Whiting Farms hackle production began…

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