This past year has been challenging for dairy farmers across the nation. During the course of the past year, dairy producers have seen the average value of their milking herd drop by $700 per head across the board. In many regions of the country, milk checks have been barely enough to cover feed costs while in the Western U.S. milk checks didn't even cover feed bills in some cases. Mounting debt, long hours, low milk checks, and a host of other issues have led to depression and despair on many dairy farms. Even with higher milk prices on the horizon, there is no doubt, some dairy producers feel this weight on their shoulders is simply too heavy. With all that in mind, on Thursday, January 21, Dean Pierson of Copake, N.Y., went through his barn with rifle in hand and ended the lives of his 51 Holstein milk cows, reports the Albany Times Union. When that last task was completed, Pierson turned the weapon on himself. No suicide note was left, his wife told Paul Grondahl a reporter of the Albany Times Union. State Police investigators told the Albany Times Union that a neighboring farmer found Pierson and the cows at 1 p.m., on Thursday. "It's horribly sad," State Police Investigator Abdul Weed told the Albany Times Union. According to published newspaper reports, Pierson's wife would like to keep the farm going. "It wouldn't be right for all that work he put into it to go to nothing," she told the Albany Times Union. The entire story as printed in the Albany Times Union can be seen by clicking here. We urge all our dairy farm families to look out for their loved ones. Keep the lines of communication open. If a loved one is acting unusual, get them help immediately. A memorial to Dean Pierson's life is planned for January 26 and 27. The family would ask that in lieu of flowers, please consider AFSP, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 120 Wall St. 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10005. A link to Pierson's obituary can be found at