The History of Schiltz Foods, Inc.
In 1944, Marlin Schiltz was given five Toulouse goose eggs found by his wife, Kathryn, and her sister. He hatched two goslings and grew them to twelve pounds, selling them for 12 cents a pound. That started the Schiltz family in the goose business.
For the next several years, hatching was done under heavy chicken hens. Marlin rented brook hens at 25 cents each for the 30 days necessary to hatch the goose eggs. The first incubator was purchased in 1949.
Schiltz began hatching other’ eggs as well, returning the goslings when they hatched. Most goose production went to the “weeder” industry. Before modern herbicides, geese were used to control grasses since they did not eat certain crops. In the late 1940’s, the geese went to the cotton fields of Texas and California, the strawberry beds of Michigan and the asparagus and mint fields of Washington. These farmers found geese to be economical and effective labor to weed the fields, as the geese literally worked for food.
Herbicides replaced the weeder geese in the 1960’s, but by that time Marlin had developed the genetic lines for heavier meat production. He teamed up with renowned poultry geneticists Verne Logan and Dr. Arnie Nordskog, from Iowa State University, to develop superior strains and breeds of geese for the table. With Dr. Nordskog’s help and guidance, Schiltz established grandparent lines and registered a distinct breed of goose with the Dept. of Agriculture, Schiltz Line 306.
In the 1970’s, his son Richard joined Marlin in the business. A state inspected processing plant was purchased and the business began processing geese.
In 1980, the Schiltz family saw the need to produce goose meat under a federal label so product could be shipped to all 50 states. They acquired the current federally inspected facility in South Dakota and moved operations to Sisseton after completing the acquisition of the goose operations of Lansberger Creamery in 1981. At that time, Jim, the youngest son, joined the operation.
Currently, Schiltz Foods is the largest producer of goose and goose products such as boneless goose breast, goose legs, goose liver and a variety of smoked goose products in the Americas. Schiltz is also the leading provider of delectable Capon.