'They treat them like pets sometimes' - Death of livestock the leading cause of depression among farmers

We spoke to a number of farmers to see what their opinions were on how the loss of livestock would affect farmers.
We spoke to a number of farmers to see what their opinions were on how the loss of livestock would affect farmers.

Ryan O'Rourke

The lead cause of depression among farmers in Ireland is the death of livestock, according to information gathered by Teagasc.

Barry Caslin said psychologists have found that the loss of animals and livestock is the biggest cause of depression amongst farmers in Ireland.

“If an animal falls ill, or has an accident, they feel as though it’s their fault,” he said.

John Fleury, a cattle dealer from Birr, Co. Offaly spoke about the loss of some of his livestock a number of years back.

“I lost a pedigree stock bull, it was devastating, I would never have sold him, not for a million euro.

“But that’s part of life, part of farming, we grow up with,” he said.

Speaking on how the loss of animals can affect the spirits of a farm, Mr Fleury said it’s hard but you have to move on, leave it outside the door.

Kevin Diffely from Co. Leitrim agreed with Teagasc’s findings.

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The cattle farmer has suffered losses of livestock himself and has felt first-hand the impact it can have on a farmer and his family.

“Well naturally it takes a big effect on the farmer, he has a great love for his animals and when one of them dies it’s like losing a member of the family,” Mr Diffely said.

When asked whether he had ever lost livestock, and if it had affected him, he said: “As the saying goes, if you have livestock you have dead stock, and of course it affected me, it affected the family.”

Charles Smith of the Irish Angus producer group said farmers are very attached to their livestock, they even treat them like pets sometimes.

“It can be fairly upsetting and emotional to lose them, it can be very very depressing,” he said.

Teagasc, in coalition with Mental Health Ireland has released a booklet to help farmers with issues like depression.

“Coping with the pressures of farming” aims to provide farmers with information on subjects like stress, depression, alcohol and drug abuse as well issues such as financial planning and managing farm workers.

Online Editors

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