In reviewing the performance of the sheep sector over the last decade, it is fair to say that it is probably standing on a slightly stronger footing now than it did in 2010. Sheep numbers had, thankfully, just turned a corner in 2010 following a decade of major decline.

The turnaround was partly helped by the introduction of the Grassland Sheep Scheme, which supported ewes to the tune of €10/head, while farmgate prices rising from an average of €3.74/kg (excluding VAT) in 2009 to €4.39/kg in 2010 brought a well-needed boost in confidence.