One in four farmers in Ireland face risk of burnout, a Teagasc conference on stress, wellbeing and suicide heard on Tuesday 18 June.

Discussing findings from the 'Farmers Have Hearts' study carried out by Dr Diana Von Doorn and Dr David Meredith from Teagasc, Dr Joe Firnhaber said that 57% of farmers experienced at least one stressor in the last five years.

Of these farmers, Dr Firnhaber said dairy farmers recorded the highest prevalence of stress.

"Weather, workload and finances are all major stressors for farmers consistently," he said.

Stress frequency

As part of the Farmers Have Hearts programme, male livestock farmers were targeted at both marts (beef farmers) and co-ops (dairy farmers) in order to provide insights into the relationship between stress and wellbeing among farmers.

Three out of four farmers (75%) reported experiencing stress

The research found that three out of four farmers (75%) reported experiencing stress from 'to some extent' (63%) to 'often/very often' (13%).

However, the data found no significant relationship between stress frequency and poor wellbeing.

Dr Firnhaber said that although stress was prevalent among farmers, only a small proportion experienced it frequently or constantly.

"This weak link between stress and wellbeing among dairy farmers suggests that there are factors beyond stress that contribute to their quality of life.

"For example, there are positive aspects of farming, such as close connection with nature, physical activity and community ties - these are potential factors that lead to people experiencing quite a bit of stress, but also doing OK at the same time," he said.

Additionally, he added that stigma around reporting extreme stress may also be a factor.