updated 1/23/2010 12:18:51 PM ET 2010-01-23T17:18:51

An upstate dairy farmer shot and killed 51 of his milk cows in his barn before turning the rifle on himself, state police in New York said.

State police discovered the body of Dean Pierson, 59, in his Copake barn on Thursday. A visitor found a note Pierson had left on the barn door that said not to come in and to call police.

State police would only say that Pierson was having personal issues, the Register-Star reported.

The upstate hamlet of Copake is about 115 miles north of New York City.

Local farmers buried the cows outside the barn Friday. They would not discuss Pierson or what had happened, but one of the men said these are hard times to be a farmer.

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