The roots of our egg production business stretch back to 1905 when Cecil Woodward’s father-in-law sent him ten chickens as a wedding gift to his home in Franklin, Idaho. He and his wife Bertha began incubating eggs and raising their own baby chickens. They soon had a flock of 500, which grew to about 2,000 layers by the 1920’s. The chickens were all raised in what today would be called a cage-free environment from their base of two, 30 by 40 foot two-story buildings. This was the beginning of what is now the largest egg laying operation in the Intermountain West.
In 1954, Cecil’s youngest son, Paul joined his father and built two triple deck houses. By 1960 their flock had grown to about 35,000 hens. Following this, three larger double deck buildings were built which increased production to about 50,000 chickens. All eggs were packed fresh each day and refrigerated until the Utah Poultry truck picked them up twice a week for delivery to Ogden.
After a great deal of planning, Cecil and Paul joined with Marlow, Paul’s older brother who owned another nearby farm with about 50,000 birds in the early 1960’s to build an egg processing plant with large automated buildings. Part of Marlow’s farm was converted to a larger feed mill with storage units for grain and other ingredients. It was about this time in April of 1966 that their father Cecil died.
Marlow and Paul then joined with a neighbor Ramon Wright, to form a corporation where the Wrights would raise the baby chickens, or to take care of what’s called the brooding and growing portion of the business. This corporation, formed in 1969 was named “Ritewood”. The “Rite” portion of the name came from Ramon Wright’s last name, and the “wood” came from the Woodward name.
In 1969 construction of a new production ranch in Riverton Utah became necessary. Eventually, a total of seven buildings would be built on this ranch with a total of 280,000 layers. This was the beginning of Oakdell Egg Farms, an initial joint venture between Ritewood and the Olson brothers. In 1977, Paul’s oldest son moved to Pasco, Washington to build another production facility, also under the name of Oakdell Egg Farms. It was during this same time that the Riverton ranch had to be prematurely closed due to the ever increasing urban growth in Salt Lake City. The ranch was completely torn down and restored to its original farm setting. However, the need for additional eggs required building a ranch to replace it. Lewiston Utah was the site chosen for the next ranch, and by 1987 it had six buildings with 360,000 chickens. It has continued to grow since.
In April of 1984 Oakdell became wholly owned by the Woodwards. With this move, Oakdell would not only produce, but would now begin marketing their eggs to large grocery chains as well. At the present time, the company has operations in Pasco Washington, Franklin Idaho and Lewiston Utah. With the company’s increased growth coupled with issues resulting from a smaller percentage of people involved in production agriculture, Oakdell has become more active in the national egg industry. We provide financial support to the American Egg Board who sponsors the popular “Incredible Edible Egg” commercials, and we are supporting members of the United Egg Producers. We have historically given our birds more space to move around than most other producers. More involvement in the industry has also brought the increasing responsibility of incorporating the latest science-based guidelines for care of our birds, and quality control measures throughout our company for the prevention of bird flu and other diseases as part of our commitment to provide the highest level of food safety and value to our customers.
Many changes have occurred since those original ten chickens and our first farm. Moving birds up off the floor in the late 1960’s and preventing wild birds and other forms of animal life from co-mingling with our birds has dramatically reduced the incidence of disease in the birds, and has helped increase our food safety supply. Our re-entry back into producing cage-free organic eggs was done after carefully evaluating what consumers want, and the related food safety for humans on one side of this issue, and bird comfort and protection on the other side. We remain committed to supplying our customers with what they want and are willing to pay for, and will do so under current science-based guidelines of professionals. By combining the responsibility everyone has to keep eggs refrigerated before use, and thoroughly cooking them prior to consumption, the safety of most eggs in the USA is likely among the highest in the world.
Oakdell eggs are currently sold in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, and Colorado. Many of our eggs are not sold under the Oakdell name, but rather under major grocery store brand names. We are very likely a supplier to store names you already know. Please see the store locator on our Web site for list of retailers who carry our eggs. We would love to hear from anyone who has a question or a comment. Send us a note from our web site or give us a call, even if it is just to say “Hello”. If you do see one of our trucks, please wave to them. Our drivers love to see friendly faces.
Our founder Cecil Woodward and his sons Marlow and Paul have now passed away. Several subsequent generations of both the Wrights and Woodward families continue to be actively involved in the business along with many other long-time friends and associates who are committed to supplying fresh, high quality eggs to the market while being responsible environmental and animal care stewards. Thank you for allowing us to share a bit of our history.