Here is at least a good part of the western United States information. I will start with my part.
Around 1987 or so, my brother Dave who had operated a dairy farm told me about this way to make money. He told me about the professor up north that would buy these regurgitated fur balls called owl pellets. Professor Irwin Slesnick had been in this business for maybe 10 years or so by then. It seems that he was the first or one of the first to promote this wonderful tool to teach with.
There were just Barn Owl Pellets based on 1 ½ inches or larger. No other names at first. When I sent the first box quite a few were rejected due to softness or size. There is always more to anything than what meets the eye.
What’s Up With the Names?
After a few years of throwing out half owl pellets I decided to see if I could sell them. So I had to set another “Standard” for this class of pellet. I saved all the half’s that were over 1 ½ inches or longer. As far as I know this was the beginning of the secondary market of pellets. I put as many as I could in a quart bag and found that these half’s averaged out to about 30 to 36 or more. Enough for an average size class of children.
Some time went buy and I started wondering if anyone would buy something more “Basic.” So I saved up the every thing that did not look like it had been stepped or driven on. My wife said I was crazy! But our first order was a very larger order and they ordered year after year. I saved so much that I decided to change the quality to only have mostly shorts and a few nicer looking half’s.
But what about all those other fragile, weak chunks and pieces? I knew these still had lots of bones in them, so I put those in a quart and my son said it was a great “Bargain.” Just as always my goal was to give a good value and the Quart Bargain Bag is still the best deal you can find.
My experience in going to schools and conducting seminars showed me that as long as there is the thrill of discovery that the secondary pellets work just fine. Also the need for connivance, to save the teachers time and easier distribution during the owl pellets labs led to the very convent portions called the “Mini Bargain Bags.” They can also be easily shared between two or more students, do to so many bones per bag. One baggie we took apart included 6 Skulls (1 Bird), 16 Jaws, 9 Humerous, 5 Shoulder Blades, 11 Hips, and much more! And that was just a quick look!
The category of Premium Owl Pellets (the original “owl pellet”) came about over time to include, extra large or “Jumbo,” and “Bird Pellets.” These are the very largest whole pellets over 2 ¼ inches long and whole owl pellets with bird bones or skulls sticking out. Latter we added “Small Premium and Mini Premium Pellets” these are also whole unbroken pellets. As the inventor of more categories we will add and may add even more. We have more choices than anyone else!