Profitability

Farmers across the country are realizing just how important it is to provide shade for their animals. But don’t take our word for it! Hear what the experts are saying about the importance of shade for cow health and for your bottom line:

  • Benefits

    “Shade is a must for pasture-based grazing systems. It curtails heat stress, which is detrimental to cattle and causes a decrease in milk production, feed intake, weight gains, and fertility.”

    -From “Shade Options for Grazing Cattle” Stephen F. Higgins, Carmen T. Agouridis, and Sarah J. Wightman, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (U. of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture). 2011

    “Direct sunlight raises body temperature and decreases an animal’s ability to dissipate its own heat. Shade can reduce radiant heat up to 40 percent.”

    -From “When It’s Hot It’s Hot and When It’s Not, It’s Still Hot!” Clay Wright, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. 1999

    “If your cows seek shade then you need to provide it.”

    -From Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms, Polyface, Inc. in the Permaculture Magazine April 2013.

    “Hot weather and high humidity can reduce reproduction rates, rate of gain, milk production and feed or forage intake. In extreme cases, heat stress can result in death.”

    -From “Livestock Shade Structures Costs and Benefits” Florida NRCS Economic Technical Sheet, June 2007. FL717ETS

    “Improved weight gain with portable shade showed an increase of 1.25 lb per day for cows, 0.41 lb per day for calves, and 0.89 lb per day for steers.”

    -From “Shade Options for Grazing Cattle” Stephen F. Higgins, et al. Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (U. of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture). 2011

    “Reducing solar radiation through artificial shade from permanent structures resulted in a 10-19% increase in milk production.”

    -From “Florida Dairy Farm Situation and Outlook 2006” Giesy, R., et. al. University of Florida, IFAS, January, 2006. and Harris B., “Feeding and Managing Cows in Warm Weather”, University of Florida, IFAS, June, 2003.

  • Science

    How do mobile livestock shade structures reduce heat stress?

    “A Livestock Shade Structure acts as a shield and reduces solar radiation and thereby heat loads.”

    -From “Livestock Shade Structures Costs and Benefits” Florida NRCS Economic Technical Sheet, June 2007. FL717ETS

    How do cattle cope with heat stress?

    “Cattle cool themselves through evaporation, by panting/breathing, or totally immersing themselves, and/or decrease the amount of feed or forage.”

    -From “Livestock Shade Structures Costs and Benefits” Florida NRCS Economic Technical Sheet, June 2007. FL717ETS

    How do cattle get heat stressed?

    “Farm animals have well known zones of thermal comfort (ZTC). The range of ZTC is primarily dependent on the species, the physiological status of the animals, the relative humidity and velocity of ambient air, and the degree of solar radiation.”

    -From “Current and Future Economic Impact of Heat Stress in the U.S. Livestock and Poultry Sectors” Normand R. St-Pierre. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013

    “The degree of heat stress on dairy cattle has been measured by the temperature humidity index (THI), developed over 50 years ago and originally showed that dairy cattle become stressed at a THI of 72.”

    -From “Want to double pregnancies during heat stress and increase the number of heifers born?” Todd Bilby, PhD. Western Dairy News and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension. September 2010. Vol. 10, No. 8.

    “Although THI has been effectively used as an indicator of heat stress, adjustment of the THI for WSPD [wind speed] and RAD [solar radiation] should enhance its usefulness. Solar radiation can greatly influence heat load, whereas changes in wind speed result in altered convective cooling.”

    -From “Environmental factors influencing heat stress in feedlot cattle” T. L. Mader, et al. Journal of Animal Science, March 2006 vol. 84 no. 3 712-719

    What are the benefits of mobile shade over permanent shade?

    “Use of natural shade, such as hardwoods, can degrade the area underneath, damage the trees roots if not fenced, and lead to pasture loss and increases erosion potential.”

    -From “Livestock Shade Structures Costs and Benefits” Florida NRCS Economic Technical Sheet, June 2007. FL717ETS

    “First, they are movable. This permits them to be moved as necessary to cleaner and drier locations.”

    -From “Heat stress in dairy cattle” Andrew P. Fidler. Div. of Ag. Research and Ext. U. of Arkansas, FSA3040, 2013

    “Shade placement will affect the animal grazing patterns and forage use, so you should observe animal traffic patterns and adjust shade locations accordingly
    for best pasture use.”

    -From “Shade Options for Grazing Cattle” Stephen F. Higgins, et al. Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (U. of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture). 2011

  • Economics

    Heat stress impacts conception and pregnancy rates.

    “Fertility decline is a combination of many factors […], and environmental factors such as heat stress.

    -From “Want to double pregnancies during heat stress and increase the number of heifers born?” Todd Bilby, PhD. Western Dairy News and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension. September 2010. Vol. 10, No. 8.

    “Some data indicate that only 10 to 20 percent of inseminations in ‘heat stressed’ cows result in pregnancies.”

    -From “Heat stress in dairy cattle” Andrew P. Fidler. Div. of Ag. Research and Ext. U. of Arkansas, FSA3040, 2013

    Heat stress reduces milk production.

    “Dairy cows that experienced temperatures exceeding 90 degrees F reduced milk production by 20 to 30%. In some cases milk production can drop 50%.”

    -From “Shade Options for Grazing Cattle” Stephen F. Higgins, et al. Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (U. of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture), 2011 and “Heat stress in dairy cattle” Andrew P. Fidler. Div. of Ag. Research and Ext. U. of Arkansas, FSA3040, 2013

    “Heat stress tends to coincide with daily milking schedules. Effects of heat stress on dairy cows are immediate and result in reduced milk production daily.”

    -From “Livestock Shade Structures Costs and Benefits” Florida NRCS Economic Technical Sheet, June 2007. FL717ETS

    Shade improves animal comfort.

    “Cattle with access to shade showed reduced respiration rate and less time around the water trough.”

    -From “The amount of shade influences the behavior and physiology of dairy cattle” Schutz, K.E., et. al. J. Dair Sci. 2010, 93:125-133, doi:10.3168/jds.2009-2416.

    Heat stress reduces ADG of cattle.

    “Cattle with artificial shade resulted in an ADG of more than 20% compared to cattle with no shade.”

    -From “Shade Options for Grazing Cattle” Stephen F. Higgins, et al. Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (U. of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture), 2011

    “Shaded heifers had an average daily gain (ADG) of 11.8% higher than unshaded heifers.”

    -From “Shade and water misting effects on behavior, physiology, performance, and carcass traits of heat-stressed feedlot cattle” Mitlohner, F.M., et.al. Journal of Animal Science 2001,79:2327-2335.

    “Shaded heifers had in increase of 17 lbs carcass weight compared with those unshaded in a feedlot.”

    -From “Effects of Shade on Heat-Stressed Heifers Housed Under Feedlot Conditions”, Mitlohner, F.M., et.al. Texas Tech University, 2001.