Pat McCormack of ICMSA accepted that there was "a significantly higher threat of burnout" among dairy farmers now than a decade ago.
"It is not unusual for dairy farmers to put down 90-hour working weeks at this time of year when calving around the clock, accompanied by numerous deadlines for schemes," said Mr McCormack.
"Farmers are finding themselves mentally and physically drained to the point of near exhaustion," he said.
"We're very conscious of it and unless we start actively trying to alleviate this workload, both physically and in terms of stress, we're going to see a situation where fathers and mothers will be reluctant to see their sons and daughters try to carry it on," added Mr McCormack.
Last year, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) described full-time dairy farms as the most "lethal" workplace in the country, with the risk factor for fatal injury 24 times higher than in the average workplace.
Teagasc research has found that while dairying accounts for less than one-sixth of farms, fatal accidents on dairy farms now account for three out of every five farm fatalities.
Those most at risk are full-time dairy farmers aged 55 plus and working over 30ha.
Mr Lynch said there was "a job of work to be done" to bring the next generation of farmers into dairying.
"Succession has to be viable, no one wants to see their family members turned into slaves. You want to be sure there is a good living out of it, otherwise they're not going to be there, absolutely not."
He added that expanding herd sizes was not a must for dairy farmers.
"The average farmer is sustainable at 80 or 90 cows at the moment. Expansion to 200-300 will happen for some but it's not necessary. The quality and lifestyle is going to be more important, and rightly so," he said.
In 2010, the average herd size in Ireland was 53 cows. In 2016, that figure had increased to 85 cows, and Teagasc estimate that in 2017, the average herd size will probably be around 90 cows.
Dairygold, which has 7,000 shareholders and 3,000 milk suppliers, urged the Government, Teagsac and farm organisations to boost communications around farm partnerships, tax incentives and long-term leases for young farmers.
"Young people want to be involved," said Mr Lynch.
"People are getting creative and inventive on how they can work with their neighbours to work parts of the land together and at the same time be efficient.
"If you pool your resources together, you will get a better quality of life out of it and maximise return at the same time."
Dairygold has also started a "lean management pilot programme" with 12 farmers based around principles of "working smarter and not harder" at farm level.
Lean agriculture focuses on the flow of materials and information through your business systems, and stoppages that can occur including paperwork issues and delays due to machinery breakdowns.
"Lean manufacturing principles have been adopted by industry for years," said Mr Lynch.
"The pilot has been embraced by the farmers and it will demonstrate to our other suppliers what best efficiency looks like, how to avoid duplication and how to make better use of time.
"It all ties in to the farmer having a better quality of life."
For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App