Hugh D. McClain
Hugh McClain, founder and owner of McClain Farms in Baxter County, has been a dynamic leader within the poultry industry and throughout the community.
Raised on a small farm in the rural community of Maumee in Searcy County, McClain graduated from Marshall High School. After serving six years in the Army as a paratrooper, he spent the first 10 years of his career in the poultry industry as a feed salesman in Missouri, Iowa and Mountain Home. He settled in Baxter County in 1970 and began working with the Ralston-Purina feed mill in Mountain Home. At that same time he established McClain Farms by renting two idle poultry houses and purchasing his first brood of commercial turkeys. Two years later Purina reached agreement with McClain and sold him the feed mill. 1973 was a favorable year for turkey growers and he quickly expanded his operation. McClain called it, “the best year ever for turkey growers.” He carefully selected additional growers to join the enterprise and introduced new, creative business strategies for the company. In 1997 McClain Farms held the distinction of being the state’s largest independent turkey producer, growing more than 5 million birds. At its height, McClain Farms had 42 growers in Baxter, Marion and Boone counties.
While McClain Farms didn’t have access to a local processing plant, it was successful because of its excellent feed-to-protein conversion rate, shorter growing time, excellent farm management and good people to work with – elements McClain says were necessary for the turkey business to thrive in north-central Arkansas.
During a career which spanned more than 40 years, McClain was a member of the board of the Arkansas Poultry Federation, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and the National Turkey Federation. In 1981, as president of the Turkey Federation, McClain, his mother and son had the honor of presenting the national Thanksgiving turkey to President Ronald Reagan in a ceremony at the White House.