Creating an enterprise from scratch

Dorset sheep breeder

In this week’s ag segment, women, This is Farming Dorset sheep farmer talks to Samantha Mc Ginty of the Sherlocks Town flock. We discuss his interests in Dorset sheep, building his own flock from humble beginnings, lambing seasons and future prospects for the farm.

Samantha Mc Ginty, Donadea, Co. He grew up on a dairy and veal beef farm in Kildare.

After her father’s death 25 years ago, her mother and sister continue to nurse on their own, while Samantha farms independently as a successful pedigree Dorset sheep farmer.

However, he is open to the challenges of setting up his own business, with renting land being one of the biggest hurdles.

Dorset sheep

Samantha considers herself lucky to have the flexibility to balance her farm and work life commitments.

He works full-time on a hybrid basis and is also five minutes from his home office.

In addition to full-time employment, Samantha farms the Dorset, Dorset-cross and Kerry Hills herds.

Initially, her eldest daughter took an interest in the Dorset breed, and Kerry Hills joined the herd through Samantha’s younger daughter.

“I am fascinated by the characteristics of the breed and look at every corner for features such as wool, ears and feet. Like other breeds, I look for ewes with a good mouth and a good carcass for the trader,” he says. This is Farming.

“Personally, I like Dorsets because you can finish lambs quickly. In addition, Dorset sheep have the ability to breed all year round. For me, I lamb in October, a few weeks after the National Plowing Championships and again at Christmas.”

“I believe the Dorset is a very versatile breed. The breed is big in England and Northern Ireland and has signed many deals with companies such as Waitrose. Being single myself, I prefer docile sheep that are easy to handle. As it was emphasized, it is an advantage that they finish quickly.”

Build a herd

After Samantha’s daughter first introduced the breed to the family farm, Samantha decided to remove her own blood and start fresh.

After that, he bought ewes in lamb, twins and triplets. Dorset sheep can take three crops in two years.

“I bought 15 lambs from two sheep in one year. “I don’t put sheep and lambs next to the ram, but I put rabbits over 1 year and 3 months old.”

Samantha generally buys her pedigree Dorset sheep from the south of Ireland, but this year she made a trip to Northern Ireland. He bought a lamb from a well-known NI flock that won overall champion silverware at the Balmoral Show.

When purchasing these breeding sheep, Samantha seeks expert advice. When inspecting ewes, he explains how he looks for “fat, not fat” ewes and emphasizes how breeding and genetics play a “huge” role in his foundation flock.

“Overall, my goal is to build a herd while improving the bloodline. I want to produce what the commercial breeder is looking for.”


As mentioned, lambing takes place in October, with more mature ewes lambing. The 2nd set of ewes, including boars and Dorset crosses, lamb in late December.

“At the end of April, we produced a ram. After scanning, we got an average of 2.1. 23 of the ewes were lambs, and the ram cleaned the rest of the loose ewes. I am completely satisfied with this number.”

“I graze the flocks in the open air. Over the years I learned an old trick from an older generation farmer. They told me that if you feed the sheep early in the morning, they will lamb for an hour on both sides.”

“For example, let’s say you regularly feed your sheep at 7am. Your ewes should lamb between 6am and 8/9am. I’ve been following it for years and it works for me.”

“I believe the sheep know you are with them during these times, so they feel safe. “My sheep never, or very rarely, lamb at midnight.”

In addition, Dorset ewes do not need to be sponged as they come into season naturally, as a compact lambing season occurs naturally for this breed. The ram usually advises the sheep within three weeks of voting.

Generation and perspectives

Samantha strives to produce a “beautiful” lamb with good head and feet, a “big” carcass and confirmation.

He wants to carry traits in the progeny that will allow commercial buyers to finish lambs quickly and efficiently.

“This year’s generation sheep will be sold like sheep. However, I plan to keep a few rams for show and sale next year.”

“Last year I had very few lambs. I got four or five replacements. “If I believe the generation is not up to par and the lambs are not good enough, I will walk a hard dog.”

“In general, I love promoting the breed, representing all types of breeds and how they fit in the market.”

“In addition, I am the secretary of the National Association of Sheep Breeders. The Association will have a stand at this year’s National Plowing Championships which will showcase 19 different breeds of sheep across Ireland.


Plans for the future

His plans for the future include increasing the number of sheep and increasing the sale of breeding Dorset hoggets and ewe lambs.

With his current holdings extremely fragmented, he plans to expand the farm closer to home. This is part of his plan to continually improve his current growing enterprise.

In five years, Samantha aims to continue raising quality sheep and educating the public about the farm-to-fork transition.

“I believe that people should be more informed. It is not about living entirely on vegetables. We cannot afford to transfer our heritage. In addition, we need to inform the population about wool and its demand as a viable alternative to synthetics.”

Samantha continues, “I see the future of agriculture as rocky in the short term.” That is until we know exactly what is going on with the environmental rules and regulations. We know what we are doing.”

“In general, as farmers, we will listen to people and continue to produce food sustainably. We should aim to promote Ireland as green, which is not always seen in the public eye,” concludes the Dorset sheep farmer.

Email to share your story – [email protected]

See more women in ag profiles.

Leave a Comment