Dale Franklin King is highly regarded across the state of Alabama for his importance to Alabama agriculture and poultry.
King was born in Athena, Oregon, on March 10, 1906, to John Tulley and Alice Engleman King. He joined the staff at Auburn University in 1930 and became head of the poultry science department in 1947.
In 1955 he was selected by Progressive Farmer Magazine as Man of the Year for his service to Alabama agriculture. In 1965, he was elected a fellow in the Poultry Science Association and, in 1971, was inducted into the Alabama Poultry Hall of Fame.
His research in poultry science attributed to a growing industry in Alabama and was a contributing factor in making poultry a commercial business.
Using individual cages for laying hens got its start in the Southeast when King installed crude cages in a laying house in 1947. Alabama poultry farmers, resulting in a major change in how laying hens were maintained, quickly adopted King’s cage management system.
King experimented with artificial light to stimulate egg production, a practice that is still implemented today. He is also responsible for building the first caged broiler house in the world.
King discovered in 1960 that the amount of light on pullets during the growing period could increase egg production as much as 20-24 eggs per hen per year. Restricted light, 6 hours a day, or decreasing amounts of light during the growing period, from 22 hours to 6 hours, would delay maturity in pullets. These pullets consistently produced more eggs than pullets raised under natural daylight.
In his free time, King was a master woodcarver, an accomplished pianist and a crotchetier. His woodcarving pieces have been featured in the Woodcarvers Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Dale King innovated, researched and helped usher in the modern-day poultry industry – replacing the backyard-chicken business, and turning poultry into one of the state’s most successful industries.