Shade Improves Pasture Fertility in NC



Jerseys and Sheep with Shade Haven at Reverence Farms

Diversity reigns at Reverence Farms in Graham, North Carolina. Suzanne Nelson Karreman and her husband Hue operate this 400-acre farm with a focus on building soil and improving the pastures where dairy cattle, beef, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens and turkeys graze. To help them accomplish their goals, they utilize two Shade Haven mobile shade structures.

“It is one of my favorite tools. It is very easy to use, and I really couldn’t ask for a more effective fertility tool than the Shade Haven,” says Suzanne.

“We can target specific areas that have a lot of weeds or have low fertility and put the shade mobile on those spots,” explains this rotational grazier. “In the next rotation, the grass is a different texture, deeper in color, thicker and there is a wider diversity of plants where the Shade Haven has been.”

There is a hierarchy of forage consumption on Reverence Farms with the 60 mama Jersey cows getting the best grass. The farm’s 300 sheep graze paddocks with forage that the dairy cattle won’t or shouldn’t eat. That includes Kentucky-31 fescue, prevalent in the area.

The first of the farm’s SH1200 Shade Haven structures, purchased in 2015, is used to cool a herd of 35 Jersey bulls and bull calves – part of the farm’s impressive Jersey bull genetics program. The second Shade Haven, added last year, alternates between the other livestock as needed and is used frequently with the St. Croix sheep, a Caribbean hair sheep breed raised for meat.

While the farm has ample trees and shaded areas, Suzanne appreciates the ability to graze anytime on pastures without shade. “So we can keep fertility on the pasture,” she adds.

Observing how the different types of livestock use the Shade Haven, Suzanne notes that their breed of sheep don’t need shade as much as the cattle.  “The sheep use it and like it, and when it is hot, they will be under it, but the cattle are drawn to it like a magnet. You can move the cattle around the farm just by moving the shade.”

An added benefit is parasite control. “By always putting them on fresh ground, you are exposing the manure to sunshine the next day – because you’ve moved the Shade Haven,” she explains. “It is much easier for the manure patties to get burned out by the sun. In that way it is a health improvement for the cattle in terms of the level of fly pressure.”

Shade Haven is proud to be part of the success at Reverence Farms, which sells its products through its website and delivers to local drop points. Reverence Farms also has its own café which buys the farm’s beef, lamb, chicken, pork, turkey, eggs and will soon carry ice cream made with milk from the farm’s Jersey cows.

Learn more about Reverence Farms at