Photo of Herman Covington McElrath

Herman Covington McElrath


Herman Covington McElrath was born on New Year’s Day 1944 in Cedar Bluffs, a community of about 250 in northeast Alabama. Like most everyone else around, the family didn’t have money, but everyone was pretty happy. No one had much, but no one wanted much. And the family did what they had to do to earn a living.

As a boy, McElrath followed in his dad’;s footsteps and grew out turkeys. He was active in 4-H and, even now, he pays tribute to anyone who teaches agricultural concepts and ideals to the youth.

Older brother Wayne helped McElrath get into the poultry business as a field man in the commercial egg division of Ralston Purina in Albertville. In 1968, the two brothers, along with a friend, established McElrath Farms as a commercial egg operation. The name became known far and wide in the poultry industry as it grew and prospered. Soon, an egg processing plant was built, followed by the construction of a feed mill to supply feed for the layers.

By 1972, the success of McElrath Farms led to its merger with a larger enterprise and McElrath took on added responsibilities as assistant general manager of the new and larger operation. In later days, McElrath Farms interests were sold to Hudson Foods, but McElrath remained as general manager.

He became more involved in the industry through the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association, first serving on committees, then on the board of directors, and as president in 1985-86. His involvement continued as he served as chairman of the Egg Committee for a number of years.

Although he’s never completely away from the farm and the poultry industry, McElrath now enjoys retirement and willingly leaves the day-to-day operations of the 300 acres to the next generation. McElrath is a long-time member of the Beulah Baptist Church where he has filled a variety of leadership roles.

Herman McElrath is married to Linda Early McElrath. They have three children: Tammy, Richard and Leigh; and seven grandchildren.