Many of you will be wondering how a single sheep could garner such national attention. The squad of daring farmers and social media stars has now successfully managed to rescue the Mule from her isolation and give her a much-needed shearing.

At a time of bleak international news in Palestine and Ukraine, the public could be forgiven for seeking out some lighter relief with a ewe rescue. Sadly, the usual animal activists are scrambling for exposure in a pathetic attempt to dismantle our sheep industry, but there is no need to give them anymore air.

The whole story is a timely reminder that many people have little grasp of the practicalities of sheep farming, but their ignorance does not prevent passion for welfare. Luckily, Scottish farmers are committed to being responsible sheep keepers, as it has always been the right thing to do.

READ MORE: Loneliest sheep has arrived at her new home at Dalscone Farm

However, the public’s passion must be put into context; otherwise, sheep production rules can become unattainable. We must remember the general public regularly say one thing and do another, particularly when faced with imported products on the shelves.

This foreign product is often only here because politicians have failed to uphold the highest welfare standards when signing post-Brexit import agreements. Some of our trade partners continue to conduct management practices, such as mulesing, which would not be compliant in the UK.

There are even reports that the poor market prices in Australia, where mutton prices have crashed 75% in the past year, could see a return to euthanizing healthy sheep. Steve McGuire, vice president of Western Australian Farmers, says when the market crashed in the 90s, they ‘had to euthanize large numbers, that was soul-destroying, we don’t want to go back to that’.

Even for such events to be considered highlights the differences in standards between the UK and abroad. Unless we use our high welfare standards to prevent a flood of imported products, then the British farmer is fighting with one hand tied behind their back.

This week the UK Government put an end to the relatively small number of live-exported animals for slaughter in Europe. The trade has been strangled by Brexit and decades of protests, and closing the channel crossing must not allow abattoirs to tighten their grip on the UK market.

Every year thousands of cattle head off on ships from Ireland to North Africa and Turkey, where the welfare obligation of the EU member stops once the animals leave the boat. It is a complicated situation, and if these animals were to remain in the Irish market, beef prices across the British Isles would be depressed.

Critically, Britain is not one landmass but a group of islands, and while trade onto the continent might be curtailed, any suggestion of a ban on animals on ferries within the UK must be immediately thrown overboard.