Watch Townline’s featured segment on American Farmer TV!
Go behind the scenes at Townline Hatchery to learn more about who we are and how our “hands on” approach provides quality poultry with service you can count on – click on the American Farmer logo below to tune in!
Take a look below for a virtual tour!
During the 1920’s through 1950’s, Zeeland, Michigan was dubbed the “baby chick center” of the Midwest. Detroit News called Zeeland “Michigan’s chick-tropolis – a town that contains but 3,000 persons yet produces 18 million baby chicks, ducks, and turkeys annually and ranks third in national importance as a hatchery center.” There were once as many as 40 hatcheries in the town and the school’s mascot even became the Zeeland Chix.
Townline Poultry Farm, Inc. is the only chicken hatchery left in Zeeland.
Townline was established in 1913 by Jacob and Ada Geerlings and originally began as a cow farm. Due to the growing poultry industry in town, it quickly became a chick hatchery. It was, and continues to be, very common for children to help and maintain the farm, and Jacob and Ada’s son Henry took over the family business in 1940 with his wife Gertrude. Not long after, the poultry industry began to dissipate in Zeeland due to the relatively inflated expense of raising poultry in the cold climate of Michigan. Many moved south for reduced feed and heat costs. Others shut their doors altogether as a result of lack of interest from buyers or heirs. Fighting on, three of Henry and Gertrude’s sons, Jack, Richard, and Don, took over the farm in 1988 as 3rd generation owners and operators.
Over the past 5-10 years, backyard flocks have been gaining in popularity and Townline has risen to help meet the demand for baby chicks. As such, new coops and additions to the hatchery have greatly changed the face of the farm.
Not only does Townline hatch chicks, they use a “hands on” approach by raising their own breeder flocks of 40,000 hens. This ensures constant monitoring and care to control the quality of the chicks produced. Raising corn on 300 acres to be used as feed for the breeder hens also helps to produce healthy, thriving poultry.
Today, many of the same buildings and equipment from as early as the 1950’s are still being used along with newer technology. Tradition continues on as Jack’s son John has begun the 4th generation of Geerlings to run the family farm. While much of the extended relation still works on the farm, the Townline “family” has grown to include many dedicated individuals.
It has always been and continues to be Townline’s goal to provide quality poultry with friendly, helpful service through using time tested techniques and applying new technology.