Hog heaven in Delta Junction

Nancy Tarnai

When Brandy McLean first read about the breed Large Black Hogs in Countryside Magazine she knew she had to add some of the animals to her farm, but first she did her homework.

McLean thoroughly researched ideas for her business, Triple McLean Farms. What she discovered about the large black hogs led her to purchase some of the creatures from a farm in Ohio. She is believed to be the first producer of this breed in Alaska.

Photo courtesy of Triple McLean Farms
A piglet butts up to the fence at Triple McLean Farms just north of Delta Junction. The Large Black Hog breed has done remarkably well in Alaska.

On the day of the animals’ arrival, McLean and her sons waited anxiously at Fairbanks International Airport. She worried about how the animals would fare while traveling. At the scheduled time McLean asked the cargo agents where her hogs were and was told, “Hogs? We have dogs but we don’t have any hogs.”

McLean was on the verge of panic but after a couple of hours more, the critters finally got to Fairbanks.

“They traveled well,” McLean said.

She ensconced them at her Delta Junction farm, where they have adjusted remarkably well. “They are rugged; there is no need for a heated barn,” McLean said. “You don’t need a lot of money to raise them.”

The hogs can get as big as 700 pounds. Her plan is to keep the hogs pure. “People have wanted to crossbreed but I don’t,” she said. “I have the pedigree papers.”

According to the Large Black Hog Association website the most important thing about Large Blacks is their pedigree. They retain the traits of their ancestors that lived on the pastures and woods of England in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are hardy animals able to handle the cold and heat.

McLean is not new to agriculture. She grew up on her parents’ farm and has always had a love for animals. While her childhood dream was to become a veterinarian plans changed when she had her first son and couldn’t bear to move away and leave her family.

Photo courtesy of Triple McLean Farms
From left Morgen, 11, Brandy, and Codey, 6, McLean get close to their hogs.

She dreams of becoming even more self-sufficient and of creating a traveling farmers’ market that would take her and her parents’ products to customers in Tok, Copper Center and other points along the road system.

“I want to take produce, animals and eggs and make it a family business,” McLean said. Another idea is to sell meat to restaurants. “These hogs sell in five-star restaurants in New York and Europe,” McLean said.

McLean’s goal is to become the biggest black hog operator in Alaska and expand her hatchery business. “I want to live off the farm and sell pork and hogs and produce and work together as a family.”

Anyone interested in raising hogs is welcome to contact McLean for advice. “It takes time and patience,” she said. “There is a lot more we can do in Alaska than people think we can.”

Contact info:

Triple McLean Farms

This column is provided by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.