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'I'm practising as a vet since 1978 and I've never seen farmers so low'

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Vet Dermot Casey

Vet Dermot Casey

Vet Dermot Casey

Morale among farmers battling the fodder and weather crisis is at an all-time low, according to Kerry veterinary surgeon Dermot Casey.

"They are going all day and all night, trying to chase that one bale of hay," he said.

"They're neglecting themselves and not working their farms as efficiently as they would normally.

"It (sourcing fodder) is all they can think about.

"I went out to one man with a cow down last week and he was like a drowning man, he just couldn't think straight.

"Another man had been up since 5.30 in the morning but didn't get around to ringing me about scouring calves until 10.30 that night.

"The calves were fetlock-deep in muck and had been scouring for a number of days," recalled the vet.

The man was up in a heap and even though all he needed to do to help the situation was to move the calves across a passageway into a clean pen, he just couldn't see that.

"I'm practising since 1978 and I've never ever seen farmers so low," he said.

"Some of them are ready to have all their cows taken away this minute.

"Before the hay started to arrive, I would call to a yard with all the animals bellowing in the background and I would be met with total embarrassment and silence from the farmer," he said.

"They are terribly proud people and I see some farmers becoming more and more isolated by this crisis, even if they are surrounded by family."

However, the vet warned that although farmers were low at the moment, the situation was likely to deteriorate in the coming weeks.

"When the grass eventually starts growing and they stop chasing the bale of hay and start opening envelopes, that's when the reality of the situation will hit them," he said.

"The second phase of this crisis is going to be a mental one."

"I think the real crisis is going to happen when they start to look at the bills," he commented.

Mr Casey maintained that it would take farmers in Kerry up to four years to recover financially from the crisis.

"To be honest, I think four years is even being optimistic.

"Aside from the bills to be paid, you have cows not coming bulling and a higher rate of womb infection which is going to affect fertility and cost farmers more in the long run.

"Vaccinations are being neglected and some of these farmers were making next to nothing anyway," he said.

Farmers have indicated to the vet that they are going to reduce stock numbers on both dairy and suckler farms by anything up to 20pc this year.

Irish Independent