Friday, November 6, 2009

Loyl Stromberg, Grand Old Man of Poultry

Modern poultry is blessed with a lot of inspired leaders. Among them, Loyl Stromberg stands out as the Grand Old Man of Poultry. Here's picture of us at his home in Minnesota.

Now 95 years old, he has not only witnessed but participated in many of the changes that the 20th century brought to poultry husbandry. He remains the driving force behind the National Poultry Museum. He’s written six books on poultry and traveled the world.

“My best years have been since I turned 70,” he said recently from his home in Pine River, Minnesota. He now lives on the two-and-a-half acres his father bought in 1945 for $5,500. The family used the cabin as a vacation retreat until they built a permanent home in 1972. Loyl was researching his book, “Poultry of the World,” at that time.

He is an indefatigable correspondent (P.O. Box 400, Pine River, MN 56474-0400). He never fails to include colorful flyers with poultry facts or updates on the Poultry Museum.

On his world travels, he saw the Netherlands’ Poultry Museum in Amsterdam and became determined that the U.S. should have its own museum to honor and preserve this significant part of our history. By 1994, the first building was dedicated, on the grounds of the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Loyl and other poultry leaders, including Dr. John Skinner of the University of Wisconsin, donated machines and materials that reflect poultry history, such as bone crushers and an Oats Sprouter – two important poultry tools that heralded improvements in chick starter and poultry nutrition. Dr. John Salsbury and his family of Charles City, Iowa, have been generous supporters.

Examples of early incubators include the coal, oil and kerosene burners that preceded electrical incubators. The museum has a three-deck Jamesway incubator. The most popular of its vintage was the Old Trusty, which sold for $15 at the turn of the 20th century. In 1902, over 200,000 of these were exported from the U.S. to other countries.

Artifacts and documents almost immediately outgrew the building. A second building opening in Summer 2009, as reported in Backyard Poultry magazine,

Loyl’s interest in rare breeds drew him to Neil Jones, who founded the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities in 1967. The organization floundered in those early months, and Loyl’s impassioned article on the plight of isolated breeders in the July 1967 Poultry Press galvanized support and launched the new organization.

Enthusiasm flagged again by 1971, and Jones resigned. Loyl convened a meeting to save the SPPA at the Apache Plaza Show in Minneapolis in October 1971. Enough breeders were willing to commit the time and energy to make the organization succeed. Officers were elected, including Loyl as First Vice President, and objectives defined.

“He twisted several people’s arms to get them to take officers’ jobs,” said Duane Urch of Urch/Turnland Poultry in Owatonna, Minnesota, who took the position of secretary-treasurer in 1971 and served in that role until 1978. Mr. Urch served several years as first vice president and was president from 1989-1996.

“The SPPA owes their life to him,” he said.

Loyl produced the first Breeders Directory, he and his wife doing all the work and then paying for the printing.

“He has provided encouragement and money at a couple of key times,” said Craig Russell, SPPA president.

Loyl continues to support SPPA and often contributes to the quarterly Bulletin.

“Loyl has been a tireless friend of the SPPA,” said Mr. Russell. “He has been responsible for whatever success the SPPA has enjoyed.”

I’m grateful to have spent time with Loyl and consider him a friend. Thanks for all you have done for poultry and the SPPA, Loyl!


Dolly said...

I have acquired an Old Trusty Incubator and I would like to know what it is possible worth. I think it is from the early 1900's.
I would appreciate any information.

PoultryBookstore said...

Check with Don Sherrick of Sunny Creek Farms, Route 2, Box 194, Red Lake Falls, Minnesota 56750
218-253-2291. He's the expert on old incubators. Let me know what you find out!