'We need a base price to put sheep farming on a sounder footing'
John O'Connell runs a sheep enterprise on heavy ground across nearly 100 acres in two equal blocks three miles apart in Ballinamore in Co Leitrim and is a member of the Sligo-Letrim Producers Group.
His flock consists of 240 Belclares-Suffolk cross ewes and he says he has "done well" on sales over the past year.
John (51) also contract rears some 60 heifers for local dairy farmers and does beef B&B.
He finds the dual sheep and finishing enterprise suits his income spread across the working year and is better than relying on a once-off payment when he is selling his sheep to market.
John ran a 30-strong dairy herd on the farm up to the late 1980s with his father Peter, but they sold the herd when the milk price made it non-viable and then went into sucklers.
They finally settled on sheep as the main enterprise in 2012, and John has no intention of looking back now.
"We've done well from the sheep. Ours are grass-based with the least reliance on concentrates as the weather allows," he says.
"Matching the sheep's needs to the available grass is important, and I always aim at getting a 10-month grazing season on my farm, though with the weather we have had over the past two years this is not always possible. Matching lambing to grass availability is essential."