Category: News

Shade Haven Customer In the News: Keith Tuck

Keith Tuck.(Progressive Farmer image by Becky Mills)

Savings Bump: Boot the Hay Habit

As appeared in DTN Progressive Farmer 
3/26/2018 | 8:57 AM CDTReprinted with permission, copyright 2018, Progressive Farmer/Telvent DTN, LLC
By Becky Mills, Contributing Editor

If you want proof Keith Tuck’s rotational-grazing system works, take a look at his hay equipment. Oh, wait. It’s gone. He sold it in 2016.

“It was a hard decision to make,” the Moneta, Virginia, cattleman admits. “My hay equipment sat there for two years before I took the plunge. But, it is a whole lot easier and less stressful.”

Tuck’s 75 to 80 cows and 30 replacement and first-calf heifers still need hay, even with his rotational-grazing system. But, he gets by with around 60 days of feeding hay compared to the 120 days he averaged before putting a rotational system into use on the family farm.

Savings Add Up

Prior to 2014, Tuck hayed 120 acres every spring. If he had excess forage, he did it again in the fall. He found that putting up, and feeding less, hay translated into major savings—with costs going from $21,000 to $24,000 before the switch to $9,600 to $12,000 after.

Now, all 250 acres of his fescue-clover pastures are grazed rather than part of it being set aside for making hay. He spends approximately $14,000 less on fertilizer for pasture- and hay land, and not just because he quit making hay.

“Rotational grazing works great to build up the soil,” Tuck says. “I read about a study that says it takes 27 years to cover your pastures with manure with conventional grazing. It only takes three to four years to get manure on every square foot of pasture with rotational grazing.”

He still soil-tests every two years but now sets the fertilizer spreader down to the lowest level possible, putting out 50 units of nitrogen an acre. He says this is enough to give fescue a boost and create stockpiled forage (standing hay) for late fall and winter. Potassium and phosphorus needs are maintained naturally with the cow herd and the hay they buy and feed.

Professional Planning

Tuck had been eyeing a rotational-grazing system for years. Lack of a handy water source kept him from trying it.

“The pond was my only water source, and it was 2,000 feet away from part of the pasture.”

He sat down with his county’s Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) and Peaks of Otter Soil and Water Conservation District employees. They mapped out a system for him, and NRCS provided 75% cost-share money through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Environmental Quality Incentive Program. Contractors moved in around Labor Day 2010, installed fences and water systems, fenced out his pond and creek, and planted trees in the riparian areas. The work was finished by Thanksgiving.

The total cost was $100,000, with Tuck providing $25,000. “It was easily paid back with the savings in hay,” he notes.

Tuck says fencing cattle out of the creek and pond was a major component of the new system.

“All this water runs into Smith Mountain Lake when it leaves this farm. It is in the lake in a half a mile,” he says. The 32-square-mile lake is a major tourist draw for the area and has sparked quite a bit of development.

Today, Tuck’s 70-acre pastures are divided into permanent paddocks of 15 to 20 acres each. He further divides these with temporary electric fences. Each of his eight water troughs are in a corner so they can be central to four paddocks.

Tuck deploys one of two Shade Havens purchased in 2017

Recovery Builds Roots

In the summer, Tuck rotates cattle from paddock to paddock, usually after a week.

“We never graze below 3 to 4 inches; we don’t want to stress the root systems,” he explains. Each paddock gets six to eight weeks of rest before he allows cattle to graze it again. “I like for it to be 18 inches tall when they come back around, enough for them to graze for a few days.”

John Andrae, Clemson University forage agronomist, says Tuck has the right idea. “Rest periods allow plants to produce new leaves, which collect energy, transform it into sugars and store these sugars so more leaves can be produced following the next grazing cycle. Not only is regrowth potential improved, but root depth and stand life are improved, as well.”

For winter grazing, Tuck goes to a stockpile system. He starts in August by taking the paddocks he wants to stockpile out of the rotation and applying nitrogen. With adequate rain, he generally has enough of a stockpile to graze by November.

He relies on strip grazing to get the most out of that stockpiled fescue. “I start at the water source and give them enough forage for three or four days, seven days at the most.”

When Tuck takes down the temporary fence and moves it, he doesn’t put up a back-fence but leaves it open so they can go back to the water trough. “There is no regrowth then, so it doesn’t hurt it,” he explains.

He keeps a rope hooked to his Kubota tractor and makes quick work of hitching it to the mineral feeder to pull it to fresh forage. “In 30 minutes, I can give them enough grazing to last for a week. It takes two hours to feed hay every day, plus you’re burning fuel. It is a whole lot more efficient and less expensive to stockpile hay.”

A meticulous recordkeeper, Tuck figured out how much time he spends a year now moving cattle and fence. He calculates he is making close to $50 an hour under the current system.

When he does feed hay, he tries to position it where pastures need the most help.

“I try to take mental notes during the growing season of where we need nutrients and seed,” he says. He also makes a point to unroll the hay, as this helps spread the nutrients and allows all the cows to get an equal chance to eat.

While labor and hay savings are impressive, Tuck emphasizes stockpiling isn’t a last-minute decision. “You have to plan well ahead. In the spring, plan for fall. And, take into account the cows have to be somewhere during stockpiling.

“The key to the whole thing is management. You have to be a good planner and think months down the road. You’ll put in as much desk time as you do in the field.”

Reprinted with permission, copyright 2018, Progressive Farmer/Telvent DTN, LLC

Shade Haven Featured in Top Ten Most Read Articles

Shade Haven mobile shade structures are featured in #3 on Gallagher’s list of “Top 10 Most Read Articles of 2017.” In the article titled, “Cattle Comfort Strategy Realized Using Rotational Grazing,” Wisconsin farmer Vince Hundt discusses his successful rotational grazing strategy.

In the article, Hundt states, “If you want to be successful in grass-fed or grass-finished beef in today’s business climate, you have to be very focused on the quality and care of your pastures.” He accomplishes that by using the right tools, including Gallagher fencing products and Shade Haven mobile shade structures.

Read article here.

Introducing the SH600

Shade Haven is proud to introduce the SH600. It’s a smaller version of our SH1200 with the same functionality and durability as the larger unit. It’s a perfect fit for herds of less than 30 cattle as well as goats, sheep, chickens, alpacas and other livestock.

Span: 30 ft.
Height: 9.5 ft.
Shade Area: 600 sq. ft.
Weight: 2000 lbs.

Special introductory pricing available if purchased before the end of 2017.

Contact us today!


We’re Moving! Shade Haven Moving Production Facility and Offices

Viroqua, Wis. – July 3, 2017 – Shade Haven, LLC, designer and manufacturer of mobile shade structures for agricultural and commercial applications, is moving its offices and production facility from its current location on Nelson Parkway to the Food Enterprise Center, 1201 North Main Street, Viroqua, Wis.

“The larger production space at the Enterprise Center will better accommodate our manufacturing processes to fit the growing demand for our mobile shade structures,” said Shade Haven CEO Peter Bergquist.

In business since 2012, Shade Haven produces mobile shade structures in sizes up to 40 feet wide that are easily moved anywhere to throw shade where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Adding shade for pastured and rotationally grazed animals reduces the risk of heat stress, increases milk production and fertility, and impacts the even distribution of nutrients that keep a pasture healthy and thriving. Shade Haven structures have become an integral part of grass-based livestock operations throughout the U.S. and the world. The company has also broadened its market to serve the people industry, providing shade for large groups at events such as trade shows and music festivals.

“We’re very excited to help support the growth of this local, successful business. Shade Haven is a great fit with the innovative culture we’ve established here in our center,” noted Susan Noble, executive director of Vernon Economic Development Association, which owns and manages the Food Enterprise Center. “We’re proud to work with these young engineers to keep their business headquartered in our community.”

Shade Haven will begin moving mid-July and expects to be fully operational at its new location by August 1, 2017.


Shade Haven at WI Farm Tech Days, July 11-13

Viroqua, Wis. – July 3, 2017 – Shade Haven, LLC, designer and manufacturer of mobile shade structures for agricultural and commercial applications, is an exhibitor at the upcoming Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, July 11-13, in Algoma, Wis. 

“We are proud to be among the innovative exhibitors at Farm Tech Days for the third year,” said Shade Haven CEO Peter Bergquist. “It’s a terrific opportunity to connect with livestock producers to introduce how they can integrate our mobile shade structures into their operations.”


Shade Haven has added a new model, the SH500, since the 2016 show. This smaller model is ideal for cattle and other livestock. It can easily be transported with a 4-wheeler and provides 500 square feet of shade. 


Demand for Shade Haven’s innovative products is growing worldwide. Shade Haven produces mobile shade structures in sizes up to 40 feet wide that are easily moved anywhere to throw shade where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Adding shade for pastured and rotationally grazed animals reduces the risk of heat stress, increases milk production and animal fertility, and contributes to the even distribution of nutrients that keep a pasture healthy and thriving. Shade Haven structures have become an integral part of grass-based livestock operations throughout the U.S. and the world.


The three-day Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is the state’s biggest agricultural show and one of the largest in the nation.

Stop by and enjoy the shade at Shade Haven’s outdoor booth #586.

Serious about rotational grazing? Get serious about shade.

Shade Haven from Above

Earlier this year, the Agriculture Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $150 million in funding would be available to agricultural producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with producers because it results in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” Tom Vilsack said.

One of the activities funded by the program is intensive rotational grazing. According to a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) activity sheet, intensive rotational grazing enhances the “harvest efficiency of grazing livestock to increase forage harvest, and to improve forage quality and livestock health.”

There are differences in methodology and infrastructural design on any farm implementing rotational grazing, but the shared trait is the rotation of cattle through a subdivided pasture. Subdividing pasture into paddocks forces cattle to graze more evenly, increases pasture rest periods, and prohibits habitual congregation around resources. Through rotational grazing, a farmer can maximize the health and productivity of two commodities: pasture and herd.

The three basic management tools are fencing, water, and shade. The use of the first two has been well documented, but the effect of shade access cannot be understated as an essential element of rotational grazing best practices. As more farmers and ranchers look to reap the benefits of rotational grazing, portable shade may be the tool that ensures return on investment.

Grass goes ‘mainstream’

Nick Wallace has been on the forefront of the grass-fed beef movement. He says rotational grazing has been an essential part of his operation.

Wallace’s family has been farming in Keystone, Iowa since 1894. His 160-acre farm raises grass-fed beef about 30 miles west of Cedar Rapids. Wallace Farms products — including his famous Nick’s Sticks, a staple of the Seattle Seahawks diet — are the result of his “back to the land” pursuit of better health for his family, his cattle, and his customers.

Wallace was diagnosed with cancer when he was 19. His dad, Steve Wallace, spent significant amounts of time researching potential causes and concluded his son’s poor health was the result of consuming low-quality food. What began as an effort to grow their own food quickly evolved into a family business.

“When we started, we were one of the few grass-fed beef companies really pushing it,” Nick said. “Now, flash forward 12 years, everybody knows. They look for the grass-fed beef logo on snack sticks. It’s very mainstream.”

Wallace said his rotational method has been a catalyst in enabling his family to raise healthy grass-fed beef. To him, the difference between rotational grazing and confinement grazing is like the difference between chess and checkers.

“With checkers, you know what the game is,” he said. “With chess, we come out every day, it is a chess-match; every day is different.”

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising cattle. Wallace’s “chess-match” approach to farming gives him the flexibility to optimize productivity and mitigate a wide range of weather conditions, pasture growth rates, and cattle behavior.

Shade ‘very valuable’

The Wallaces were not always raising grass-fed beef or practicing rotational grazing, though. Like their neighbors, the Wallace farm had been raising grain-fed beef for decades before the family decided to switch to grass in the early 2000s.

Eventually, the family settled on a method that worked for them and their land: A 40-acre pasture is divided into four 10-acre paddocks which are each subdivided into roughly 10-15 moves with movable high tensile electrified fencing on fiberglass posts. That gives the cattle 400-600 moves in a 40-acre field, or three-to-four daily moves. (Wallace estimates he’ll have about 75 head rotating in his pasture on the Keystone farm this summer.) If the cows aren’t keeping up with the growth of the grass, Wallace puts it up in hay.

Almost any pasture can be adapted to rotational grazing, Wallace said. He recommends farmers use what they already have before planning projects. In addition to movable fencing, Wallace had to figure out a way to move resources like water and shade through those hundreds of possible moves. For water, he uses 70-100 gallon water troughs. For shade, he uses a moveable Shade Haven unit.

The Shade Haven is a 1,200 square-foot portable shade structure designed and made in Viroqua, Wis. that can be deployed and closed by a single user in minutes. It is easily moved with a truck, tractor, or ATV. Shade Haven was designed for and by farmers to bring shade to all corners of the pasture to increase cattle productivity.

Wallace said his Shade Haven has been a “very valuable” management tool because his farm had no existing shade. He said he has seen direct benefits in his cattle in milking and calving, and weight gain. The Shade Haven has also helped him manage the pasture since it deters cattle concentration that creates pockets with a high density of urine and manure.

“When it gets hot, (the cattle) stand around the cattle tank and stand there for half a day, week after week, month after month,” Wallace said. “At the end of the season, that spot is toast. You can’t get anything to grow there.

“With the Shade Haven, you can put that in the middle of the pasture and they’ll go there and go to water and go back. It keeps them moving.”

Fundamental shade

Funding opportunities through the USDA and the NRCS signify a national growth in the popularity of rotational grazing. Whether rotational grazing is done out of concern for conservation or profit, the role of shade in maximizing pasture and herd productivity cannot be overstated. As more farmers and ranches look to implement forms of rotational grazing, portable shade will prove to be an essential management tool on any existing pasture.

Shade tools will be especially important this year as the National Weather Service is predicting above-average summer temperatures extending well into autumn. Access to shade during periods of high heat has been shown to increase cattle weight gain, milk production, and fertility rates.

A study by the University of Kentucky and the University of Arkansas found that milk production can drop by 20-50 percent when dairy cows are exposed to temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. Another study from Texas Tech University discovered shaded heifers had an increase of 17 pounds carcass weight compared to those in an unshaded feedlot.

The benefits of rotational grazing diminish without shade to protect cattle from heat. Whether driven by the pursuit of resource conservation, cattle health, or farm profitability, shade is an indispensable management tool that will allow farmers to meet their goals. If a farmer wants to get serious about rotational grazing, he needs to get serious about shade.

Author: Ryan Matthews, Freelance Journalist