Women in Agriculture profile featuring Ellen McClure

Friday, 15 October, 2021

Place you call home: Dundrod, Co Antrim.

Occupation: I’m currently in my final year of the BSc honours degree in agricultural technology at Queens University, Belfast.

Farming commodity:

I am from a beef and sheep farm where I breed pedigree Dorset sheep and Hereford cattle. I’m a regular on the show and sale circuit with my sheep and most recently, I was awarded best medium flock in Northern Ireland and best small flock in the UK which was a great honour.

How did you become involved in farming?  

I grew up on the family farm so I was always helping where it was needed but I would say I became more involved when I got my own sheep and cattle. It was a steep learning curve at the age of 11, however, it’s been an excellent experience which has given me invaluable life skills that have been useful in completing my degree and securing work placement.

Earliest farming memory: My earliest memory is probably bringing in the hay. It was a real family affair and the highlight being supper at the end of the night!

What personal characteristics did you develop from agriculture?

Perseverance, confidence, versatility and drive.

Life lesson you learnt from farming: I think it’s important to be resilient. Farming is full of ups and downs, sometimes more downs. However, I’ve learned not to be disheartened by this and instead to treat it as a learning experience and use it as motivation to push on - it’s the best way to look at things.

What do you enjoy most about the farming lifestyle?  

I love working outdoors and I’m lucky enough to live in an area which I think is a beautiful part of the world. Whether the snow is blowing sideways in winter or the sun is splitting the trees, there is always a something to look at and enjoy.

I also really enjoy the social aspect of the farming lifestyle, going to Young Farmers’, university, markets and shows, it’s great to have so many like-minded people to chat to and enjoy the craic with.

Describe a farmer in three words: Resilient, problem solver and hard working.

What would you like the public to know about NI farming?

Northern Irish farmers are among the hardest working people out there, contributing to producing the food we eat to the highest standard possible. I think this has really come to light during the pandemic when we recognised farmers as ‘key workers’ for the vital role they play.

If you could give farmers/farming families/ farming community one piece of advice what would it be?

Don’t take things too seriously and most importantly, enjoy what you do and take each day as it comes

What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agri industry?

Go for it! From my own experience, the agri industry is full of people with similar goals, interests and often farming backgrounds, so socially, there is always plenty to talk about. There are also loads of opportunities across a vast range of sectors giving plenty of scope to choose something that appeals to you.

What are your hopes for the future of Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry?

From my own experience of studying agriculture at university I know there is a vast amount of young people both male and female, with a passion for agriculture and a drive to make the industry sustainable. I can only hope this remains the same for generations to come!

Ellen alongside judge Richard Currie, from the NI Dorset club at the Omagh SHow and Sale in August.

Ellen pictured with her dog Ed and Hereford cattle.