Starting from Scratch

Loyl Stromberg: The man behind the poultry

Loyl Stromberg, former head of Stromberg Hatchery and internationally acclaimed author of more than a dozen books about poultry

Loyl Stromberg, former head of Stromberg Hatchery and internationally acclaimed author of more than a dozen books about poultry.

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Editor’s note: This brief biography of Loyl Stromberg is in addition to “A Museum Worth Crowing About,” Jerry Schleicher’s article on the National Poultry Museum, Bonner Springs, Kan.

The National Poultry Museum is a long-held aspiration of Loyl Stromberg, former head of Stromberg Hatchery and internationally acclaimed author of more than a dozen books about poultry, including the widely respected Poultry of the World.

Now a resident of Pine River, Minn., Loyl donated many of the items on display at the museum from his personal collection.

Loyl’s parents, Ernst and Josephine Stromberg, began hatching chicks on their farm in 1921, and in 1925 founded Stromberg Hatchery in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Over the next four decades, the company grew to become one of the largest hatcheries in the nation, with 15 locations in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and South Dakota

Loyl and his brother, Wayne, eventually took over the company, which produced and sold dozens of breeds of chicks, as well as young turkeys, pheasants, ducklings, goslings, swans, peacocks and other exotic fowl. Wayne says that during the company’s heyday, it operated 18 incubators, each holding 47,000 to 55,000 eggs, and hatched every day of the week from January into June or July.

Stromberg Hatchery sold chicks directly to customers from each of its locations, but the company’s biggest business came from mail orders. The company had its own printing plant to print millions of catalogs and mailers, and shipped chicks nationwide. “We guaranteed 100 percent live delivery,” Wayne recalls, “and we would ship anywhere the chicks could arrive within three days.”

The Stromberg Hatchery business declined with the onset of corporate poultry operations in the 1960s, and ceased operations in 1965. In 1969, Loyl founded Stromberg’s Chicks & Pets in Fort Dodge, selling baby chicks, pheasants, ducklings, goslings and other exotic birds, as well as small animals and poultry and game bird equipment. Following the death of his wife, Evelyn, in 1991, Loyl turned over the business to his son and daughter-in-law, Loy and Janet, who today operate it as Stromberg’s Chicks & Gamebirds Unlimited in Pine River. FC