University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

WYPR: Neighbors say Delaware didn't protect them from effects of new "mega" chicken farms

When environmentalists talk about the rise of huge, factory-style chicken farms on the Delmarva Peninsula, they’re usually worried about runoff into Chesapeake Bay tributaries. But there’s another problem: the effect on neighbors. Maryland and Virginia are developing basic safeguards to protect folks who think they’ve bought a piece of heaven only to have a chicken farm spring up next door. But some in Delaware say the view from their back yards is a little different.

There’s Cheri Zatko-Coseglia, for example, who moved her family to the rural town of Farmington a decade ago for open land and blue skies. But now, the first thing you see on her property is flies and haze.

She says she swam in her back yard pool since the second year she lived there. But no more. The pool is full of algae. And beyond it are 10 long, low barns, each the length of two football fields, where almost half a million broiler chickens -- Delaware's top agricultural product -- are being raised.

Each chicken house is studded with huge fans, blowing stink into Zatko-Coseglia’s yard. She says they appeared as if overnight, with no public notice.