Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Don Schrider's new turkey book

Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, 3rd edition: Breeds, Care, Marketing by Don Schrider, 2013, $19.95
Pages: 320
Size: 6 x 9
Color: Illustrations throughout
ISBN: 978-1-61212-149-9
Order Number: 622149

Don Schrider has done a terrific job of re-writing Storey’s turkey book. Storey has maintained its Guide to Raising series over the years and is a leader in the field, but its turkey book was something of a misfit. The original version was an industry-oriented work that didn’t address small producers’ needs well when it was first published, and the 2000 update didn’t help much. As public interest has grown in small flock poultry production, Storey has stepped up with a book that puts practical information into their hands.

Don Schrider has lots of experience with turkeys, and he shares it with readers in this book. He’s a master breeder and worked as communications manager for the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for several years. He’s smart and a nice guy.

He covers all the physical and husbandry basics: buildings and equipment, feeds and feeding, protection from predators. The book’s line drawings do best in this area. Building diagrams and feeder illustrations are clear and helpful. He gives lots of detailed advice about pastured production, which is what most people who buy this book are going to be planning. Those going into industrial-size production will be at universities, taking courses which will connect them to the corporations who have their methods figured out. This book has a different focus.

Chapters on incubation and brooding share Don’s turkey raising experience. He worked closely with Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas on the book, and this section shows it. Frank’s the premier heritage turkey breeder in the country, so his word carries plenty of weight. His advice is specific and clear. Turkeys require some care in hatching and brooding, so his detailed pointers are well taken. Readers won’t come away from this book thinking that they can throw things together and expect a good outcome. They will know that raising turkeys requires knowledge and commitment.

The book’s focus is on the small producer, not the hobbyist. Don includes chapters on killing and processing and running a successful turkey enterprise. His expertise covers the crucial points regarding getting turkeys ready to sell to consumers: turning them into safe food that cooks will seek out. His marketing advice targets the most important thing the small producer has to sell: the story of the farm and the birds that are for sale. That’s the value-added bonus that small producers need to justify the higher price. Consumers will pay more for better food.

There’s a general chapter on health problems. This is such a specialized area that it’s important to have professional advice if you’re starting a turkey production operation. Don covers the basics.

This is an important book for the small flock movement. It puts useful information into the hands of those eager to make changes in our food system and bring production closer to the consumer. It’s a good companion to my How to Raise Poultry, which includes more heritage breed information and photos. HTR Poultry gives the historic and literary background, as well as general information. Don has stepped up with all the specifics to raise successful flocks of them. 

No comments: