Nichols Poultry Farm was established in Kingston, New Hampshire in 1915 by Perrin Nichols and his son Frederic Nichols. The farm was to become one of the first commercial broiler growing farms in the U.S.A. They produced “springers” (as broilers were then known) for the New York market. After starting with Rhode Island Reds these were substituted in 1917 by White Plymouth Rock stock and a considerable amount of trapnesting and pedigree work was done. However Pullorum disease wiped them out and breeding was recommenced with New Hampshires in 1920. In the mid-twenties Nichols began breeding for broiler characteristics, emphasizing vigour, light colour, early weight, early large egg size and high hatchability of eggs set. The company grew broilers from their own stock until 1935 when hatching egg sales began. Barred Rocks were added to the breeding plan in 1938 to produce a male that would blend with the New Hampshire and produce a cross of outstanding market quality. The New Hampshire progressed as a broiler mother and by the mid-50’s more than 40% of all female parents were Nichols stock.

The Nichols Farm near Kingston

Jim Coleman at Brunswick, Maine founded the Coleman Maine Reds in 1931 and bred a strain of New Hampshires for the Maine roaster market. In 1941 he accepted a position as General Manager of Christie Poultry farms at Kingston, New Hampshire. This company was a franchise of Nichols and in 1943 Jim Coleman was appointed as General Sales Manager at Nichols. By 1951 sales of breeder units exceeded 15 million spread across 46 states in the U.S. In Maine Coleman Farms sold over 2 million Maine Reds. In 1951 the Nichols entry in the “Chicken-of-Tomorrow” contest came second to the Charles Vantress entry and established the Nichols stock as a leader for broiler production. In 1952 Nichols took over the Coleman Maine farm for research and development of both broiler female and male lines.

In 1957 Lohmann Tierzucht concluded a licensing agreement with Nichols for their stock and to set up a broiler breeding and production operation in Germany. A year later Lohmann also concluded a licensing agreement with H&N in Kirkland, Washington for layer breeding. These developments lead Nichols to establish the Nichols Corporation with subsidiaries in Brunswick, Maine (Nichols), Kirkland, Washington (H&N) and Cuxhaven, West Germany (Nichols-Lohmann). To these was added Chunky Chicks, Newbridge, Scotland.

Nichols purchased the former Squamscott Hotel (right) in Exeter in 1955 for use as the headquarters of Nichols International. A secret meeting of political leaders of several parties supporting abolition of slavery was held in the hotel in 1853 leading to the formation of the Republican Party in 1856.