Stresses associated with calving and mating


It's a 24/7business! The hours are long, the weather plays havoc and then there is balancing nutrition, let alone balancing the finances and family.
It's a business that a lot of us just went into with little thought for the downside and troubles that would come our way.

I believe New Zealand farmers could possibly the most optimistic people in our society.

Stress is an insidious thing that sneaks up on us and can get out of hand.

Some stress is healthy and necessary. It is what gets you out of bed and going and gives you a lot of drive and energy. Common triggers for stress overload are frustration, conflict, change and pressure.

In difficult times stress kicks in and the intensity increases. Some examples of stress symptoms are:


  • Tiredness, headaches, tightness in neck and shoulders, restlessness, ulcers, hypertension, chest and back pain, upset stomach, low sexual function, skin problems , just to name a few.
  • Psychological/Emotional

  • Irritability, mood swings, nervousness, low self esteem, worry, anxiety, guilt, tearfulness, fear, anger, grief, sleep problems, depression, helplessness, shame, forgetfulness, dull senses, negative attitude and poor concentration.
  • Behavioural and Social

  • Seeking isolation, less contact with friends, lashing out, blaming, nagging, resentment, arguing, alcohol/drug/tobacco use.
If stress is experienced for long periods it can result in burn out. That is one of the reasons I recommend 1 milking off per week and 1 weekend off per month. It just makes a huge difference according to those who have applied it. So, what about some strategies to help handle stress?

Exploring financial and management options. I know from my work that often money is the No. 1 stress. Seek out suitable qualified people and talk about your situation. The financial situation will affect the whole family, so get everybody involved. Discuss the issues, set out some budgets in writing and follow them. A thought from Stephen R Covey's book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families is, "there is nothing more powerful and stress reducing than regular weekly family meetings to make people feel better…..".

Stress also makes us want to withdraw from problems. When people start to withdraw, this is exactly when they need support. As stress rises people start to communicate in unhelpful ways. Improving communication can be a powerful way to get through your stress period by:
  • Listening properly
  • Treating people with respect
  • Maintaining eye contact with improved body language
  • Expressing your views briefly without accusing, exaggerating or yelling
  • Using I statements e.g. "I feel upset because…"
  • Focusing on the present not the past
Tears may/will be inevitable and that is perfectly normal in the circumstances.

So, the key to getting through the stresses of life, calving, mating and farming in general is a project. It requires effort and realistic expectations of yourself, team and family. If stress becomes relentless then your ability to cope will fall away and interpersonal relationships will suffer. We at Fraser Farm Finance are very aware of stress issues and refer at risk people to a psychologist or their GP.


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