Tag: Mobile Shade

A Shade Haven and a 12th Century Abbey

Our European distributorMan@Machine shares a customer’s insight on grazing with a SH1200 Shade Haven mobile shade system at an organic farm near Leuven, Belgium.

Article written by Rosa de Nooijer

In the outskirts of Leuven, Belgium, stands an Abbey that was built in 1129. Today, in 2023, the land surrounding the ‘Abdij van Park’ is used by a cooperative of farmers. The meadows are grazed by their cattle, and the fertile soil is used to grow potatoes, cereals, vegetables, and fruit. Passing by on a summer day, you might spot the cows ruminating in the shade provided by the Shade Haven that farmer Ine Craenhals got for them. We asked Ine some questions about the role of the Shade Haven on the farm.

Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your farm?
Ine: “We are BoerEnCompagnie, a mixed, organic farm near Leuven. The farming cooperative is made up of different partners, such as the farmers, active participants, and a board. We run the farm as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where those with an annual subscription can come and harvest the vegetables and fruit that we grow. Additionally, there are different subscriptions to packages that include dairy, meat, cereals (and flour), potatoes and bread.

I joined BoerEnCompagnie as a partner in 2018. That is also when we started milking the herd as well as processing the milk. We have a herd of 15 dairy cows. The calves spend a minimum of three months with their mothers. We process all the milk into various products that are combined into packages that customers can subscribe to. We also sell all the meat ourselves.”

Q: Why did you start looking for a shade structure for your animals?
Ine: I saw that our cows were having a hard time on hot days. Our farm is located on the grounds of the old Abbey. The surrounding landscape is protected, so planting trees is not possible everywhere. We decided to plant as many as we were allowed to because they play an important role when it comes to supplying minerals. Even though we would have loved to plant more trees, we also knew that they would take a long time to grow large enough to protect the herd. That is when we started looking for a mobile shade structure. Now, I am convinced that a mobile shade spot has many advantages over a tree because you can influence where in the meadow the animals spend their time. Otherwise, in warm weather they would always under ‘that one tree’, which means that too much fertilizer falls in one place. This results in the grass no longer growing and so on. We also work with rotational grazing and without a Shade Haven we always had to give them access to the same part of the pasture on hot days. But… those warm days turned into warm periods, so we ran into problems with food. We also worked with a temporary fence in a shady spot, but we were not allowed to turn it into a permanent pasture. And that temporary fence requires a lot of work. Not just that, but with this shady spot the same rule applies: the manure always falls in the same place.

Q: What are the benefits of the Shade Haven?
Ine: “The fact that you can spread the manure and always allow the shade to go with the herd. The Shade Haven is incredibly user-friendly! It is so easy to fold and unfold. I even enjoy it. The structure is very robust: nothing has broken yet, even when the wind blows a little harder. Of course, it is important to keep an eye on the wind, but it can handle quite windy days. The good thing is that, when I do close it, the cows no longer need it because the wind cools down enough.”

Q: Are there also negatives? If so, have you found solutions for that?
Ine: “You need a tractor or something similar to move the Shade Haven. We don’t always have one right next to the meadow. I have not found a permanent solution for it yet. Though I have been thinking that maybe I would want to train a cow to pull it. I think that for us it is a matter of better organizing the grazing system so we can keep up with the work we are already doing anyways. But I try to keep in mind that we have only been milking for 6 years, so we are still learning a lot.”

Q: Have you seen a difference in the behavior of the herd since you have the Shade Haven?
Ine: “They love the Shade Haven. They walk there -even when they have fresh grass- to rub themselves on the brushes and of course to cool down (not just in the shade, but also in the breeze due to the lower temperature). They really get through the hot days better than before.”

Q: Why would you recommend others to also purchase a Shade Haven?
Ine: “It’s so easy to use, there is no maintenance, and it is well made. You will have no more worries. The animals feel much better and they continue to give good milk on hot days.”

Q: How do other farmers and people who visit the farm react to the shade haven?
Ine: “The reactions are always very positive, and people are curious about it. The price of the Shade Haven scares some people away. Even though I understand that, you have to look at it as an investment, just like a like a tractor or a good milking machine. We were fortunate that we could count on support from the Abbey. Otherwise we would never have been able to buy this because we were only just beginning. Now that we have one, I wouldn’t want to miss it ever again. Talking about money, it is important to mention that planting and replanting trees to protect livestock also costs a lot of money, which is often forgotten. Finally, I think farmers can also look at subsidies to make such investments (in Flanders, for example, the VLIF).”

Q: What is your future dream for keeping animals on farms/for the animals on your farm?
Ine: “I would like to focus more on the grazing on our farm and get better at it. There’s nothing more fun than being among the cows in the meadow and setting up the fences for the next few days. This way I hope to be able to get more milk from grazing. As long as the cows are grazing happily, I am happy as well.

We want to thank Ine for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.

Man@Machine is a European importer of the Shade Haven. European farmers interested in adding mobile shade should contact info@manatmachine.com or by calling +31644428391

UW-Madison Students Advance Automation Capabilities

Innovation is at the heart of everything produced at Shade Haven, from industry-leading mobile shade systems to accessories and add-ons that enhance grazing success. The company is currently focused on developing capabilities that would automate movement  of the Shade Haven within a paddock.

“While the Shade Haven prevents heat stress and productivity loss in livestock, it’s also a nutrient management tool,” noted Shade Haven president Reed Doerr. “Automating the Shade Haven saves valuable time for busy farmers, while distributing nutrients throughout a paddock to maximize pasture health.”

Four aspiring engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently helped to bring this technology closer to commercialization. Biological Engineering students Paulina Baker, Yusra Houidi, Paul Lema and Meera Manoharan selected Shade Haven Automation as their Senior design project .

The design project spanned two semesters. The first semester was devoted to concept and design. The second semester was devoted to building, testing and refining an attachment for the SH1200 that would enable automated movement across varied terrains.

The team overcame numerous challenges during the development phase. Working with industrial grade motors and controllers, building a complex structure, and conducting numerous calculations put classroom knowledge to the test.

“Anticipating potential issues with hardware, software, and delivery timelines is crucial in ensuring the success of any engineering project,” said team member Paulina Baker. “This experience has honed my ability to identify and address challenges preemptively, a skill that will undoubtedly serve me well in my future career.”

This transformative experience has  advanced the students’ knowledge of mechanical systems, fabrication methods and industry standards.

“This has been an amazing experience,” said Lema. “I feel like this has been bigger than the rest of my college combined in terms of learning and real takeaways. I want to thank Shade Haven for supporting us and for believing in us.”

The work these students have done paves the way for field testing and further refinement with a marketable product to follow. Shade Haven appreciates the time and dedication invested by these future engineers to move it one step closer.

Meet the Team

Name: Paulina Baker
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Natural Resources Track
Primary role on the project team: Tire Subassembly Design and Fabrication
Plans after graduation: I plan to pursue a master’s degree. Currently, I work for the WI DNR as a wastewater specialist and also for REAP Food Group, a food justice non-profit in Madison, as a food box coordinator for the Farms-to-Families initiative, serving Latinx and indigenous families. I hope to continue working for both, doing work that feels necessary in our community.

Name: Yusra Houidi
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Machinery Emphasis
Primary role on the project team: Steering Design and Fabrication Lead
Plans after graduation? I plan on pursuing Engineering Design roles following my graduation in December 2024. This summer I will be working as a Design Engineer intern at Toyota Motor North America in Michigan.

Name: Paul Lema
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Machinery Systems Emphasis
Primary role on the project team: Fabrication & Design Lead
Plans after graduation: I recently started looking at grad school in Biological Systems Engineering. In the meantime, I plan on returning to my family’s farm in Ecuador and working on developing infrastructure and machinery for the agriculture of the mountains.

Name: Meera Manoharan
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Natural Resources Track
Primary role on the project team: Pivot Design
Plans after graduation: I will pursue a government job that specializes in water conservation or sustainable energy. Through this job I plan to become a PE within four years following my graduation in May 2024. I am taking the first step toward this goal by taking the FE exam this semester.

Ten Years of Shade

First Shade Haven ever sold still going strong at Breezy View Dairy

More than a decade has passed since Shade Haven LLC introduced a breakthrough mobile shade structure that is built to last, simple to use, and offers a long-term solution to keep livestock comfortable and grazing in the scorching summer sun. In 2013 dairy farmer Harold Eichelkraut saw the potential in this innovative new grazing tool and purchased the very first Shade Haven SH1200.

That Shade Haven remains an indispensable asset at Breezy View Dairy, a 100-year-old family farm in Paoli, Wisconsin. “I use the Shade Haven every day,” says Darren Eichelkraut, who took over the farm from his father in 2015.

Eichelkraut recalls the initial curiosity of neighbors asking about the “giant UFO in the field.” That curiosity has turned to admiration after eleven successful grazing seasons. “The Shade Haven has become symbolic of our farm,” notes Eichelkraut. “It’s rare to see cows grazing in this area.”

A need for Shade 

Cool cows graze more. That means more milk and more profits. The Shade Haven also plays a critical role in preventing mastitis and other bacterial infections by keeping the cattle on dry ground. Eichelkraut emphasizes, “We have just a handful of shady spots. It doesn’t take long to turn those into muck holes. With the Shade Haven, we can move around and continue to graze and not create those muck holes.”

The 53-head milking herd at Breezy View graze over about 100 acres, split into 3-acre paddocks. “The cows get fresh pasture every 12 hours,” explains Eichelkraut. “I use polywire to break the 3-acres into what I think the cows will need in a 12-hour period, depending on the season.”

Eichelkraut uses a tractor or 4-wheeler to move the Shade Haven along with the cattle. The ten-year-old shade structure has held up to the cattle and the weather with minimal maintenance. When bad weather is looming, Eichelkraut easily closes the Shade Haven. “I only had it open through one big storm, and it did rock it. But all I had to do was replace a couple poles, and we were up and running the same day.”

While Eichelkraut appreciates the solid construction and ease-of-use, the cattle absolutely love the Shade Haven. “The cows like to have a place to gather. Having the Shade Haven out there keeps them in the pasture rather than having them pile up around the cow tank or the buildings.”

Sustainable farm life

As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, Eichelkraut is proud to continue his family’s legacy along with his wife, Nicole, and two young children. The Eichelkrauts converted the farm to organic in 2011 and sell their organic milk to Westby Coop Creamery. They also grow all their own feed crops.

Situated just 15 miles south of Madison, Breezy View Dairy stands out for its commitment to sustainable farm practices and cattle welfare. With an up-and-coming agritourism business nearby, the cattle are in a highly visible area. When people see the grazing practices and the Shade Haven at Breezy View Dairy, it’s obvious these farmers care about their animals and the land.

Shade = More Production at Idyll Farms

The increased production possible with Shade Haven mobile shade systems has perhaps never been as obvious as it is at Idyll Farms in Northport, Michigan. This regenerative farm grazes 120 Alpine dairy goats, whose milk is turned into award-winning cheeses in a farmstead creamery. After adding a Shade Haven SH600 to its grazing plan, Idyll was able to double the time its goats are on pasture on hot summer days.

“In the last two years, we were only able to graze two to three hours, because the goats were getting heat stroke,” says farm manager and head cheesemaker, Melissa Hiles. “Since we got the Shade Haven, we are able to graze 6+ hours per day, which is awesome!”

Melissa Hiles

That extra time on pasture impacts the amount and quality of the milk. “It does help production,” notes Hiles. “I check my solids and fats and proteins. Since I’ve had my Shade Haven, I’ve seen my fats, proteins and total solids go up.”

Hiles has also observed better pasture health. “I’ve seen a difference in the density of the forage wherever the Shade Haven has been.”

The grazing plan

Idyll Farms is committed to regenerative agriculture and managed grazing on about 150 acres. After grazing goats for 11 years, Hiles determined a two-paddock-per-day mob grazing pattern works best. A side-by-side Ranger pulls the Shade Haven through the paddocks.

Hiles loves having the Shade Haven in the pasture, and the goats do, too. “They absolutely love it,” notes Hiles. “There is always one that is on the platform and refuses to get down – so she is queen of the Shade Haven.”

The goats tend to stay close to the Shade Haven – something Hiles plans to use to her advantage. “We are going to try to just move the Shade Haven and not the fences for a couple of days. We hope maybe the Shade can save us a little time while we are short staffed.”

Say goat cheese

The 500-acre Idyll Farms started with two goats and a desire to make cheese. Today, the farm’s herd consists of 120 milkers, 15 kids and ten bucks.

Hiles first made cheese on the farm 11 years ago, and her cheese quickly gained recognition. In 2022, Idyll Farms cheese won 7 awards at the American Cheese Society contest and two Best of Class awards at the World Champion Cheese Contest.

The Chilly Billy, Mont Idyll, and numerous spreadable cheeses, are sold at stores throughout the country. Details on the cheese and purchase locations are listed on the farm’s website. For those needing a quick goat cheese fix, there’s even a goat cheese vending machine on the farm stocked with a variety of Idyll Farms cheese.

Thanks to the Shade Haven along with the farm’s regenerative practices, the goats will continue to give an abundant supply of milk to produce these artisanal cheeses. “We want our pastures giving back to the milk,” notes Hiles. “The Shade Haven keeps the goats healthy and on pasture, and they produce better quality milk because of it.”

Busy Little Farm Needs Shade

Doyle Farm, Dixon, CA

The Shade Haven SH600 mobile shade system at Doyle Farm in Dixon, California, fits perfectly with the farm’s holistic agriculture model. With a Shade Haven, the farm maximizes land use while preventing heat stress and boosting livestock performance in a locale that regularly hits triple digit temps from July through September.

“We have Angus cattle. We know they will not do well in this heat without shade. That’s why we purchased the Shade Haven,” says farm manager Matt Wilke, a former chef turned sustainable agriculture expert.

Wilke took the farm manger job at Doyle Farm four years ago tasked with building the 22-acre farm from the ground up using a holistic approach that integrates livestock with fruit and vegetable production. There’s a lot happening on this little farm. A plot of row crops, vegetables, and lavender covers one section, with fruit trees running throughout the pasture.

“The model is to work toward zero input – to get all our fertility from the livestock,” says Wilke. “The pasture and the fruit trees work in tandem as kind of a little ecosystem.”

Holistic Approach

Broiler chickens are the primary livestock at Doyle Farm. Last year Wilke produced 800 birds and expects to increase to 3000 this year. Currently just three Angus beef enjoy the comfort of the Shade Haven, though Wilke plans to expand the herd to 20 this grazing season. “The method we do is a mob graze with small, confined paddocks with electric wire,” explains Wilke. “The cattle move every single day. They get enough grass for one day and move to the next spot, and the Shade Haven moves with them.”

Though Doyle Farm is not certified organic, everything on the farm is done with organic in mind. No chemicals are used on the land or animals. Wilke added a mineral feeder to the Shade Haven along with fly traps. “The flies out here are a major issue, and since we aren’t using any ivermectin or pour over solutions, to be able to have something out there that helps control the flies has been huge.”

The Shade Haven is critical to keeping the cattle healthy in the California sun. “It is essential to create that low-stress environment for the animals. It allows me to be hands off in terms of medications and vet visits.”

During the winter months, when most Shade Haven customers store their Shade Haven, Wilke continues to find it useful. “The cattle like to rub on something…if I bring the Shade Haven out, they prefer to rub on that, so it keeps them away from my trees.”

The products produced at Doyle Farm and several other farms in northern California are sold through Tank House Farms, which supplies restaurants, catering companies, a culinary school and wedding venues that fall under the umbrella of Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group. “Everything we produce here is already earmarked and goes straight to the supply chain of the restaurants,” notes Wilke.

As things get growing at Doyle farm, Wilke is excited about increasing his livestock numbers, possibly adding some dairy cows or a dairy goat herd. “We are bumping it up every season, trying to get this place to full production.”

Turning the Page: Soldier to Rancher

When Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Jason Smith retired from the military and took over his 130+ year-old family farm, he made a major lifestyle change. He also significantly changed the way the farm operated. This fifth-generation rancher in Mt. Hermon, Louisiana, implemented regenerative grazing practices that enrich the soil and ensure he can leave the farm in better shape for the next generation.

After 22 years in the Marine Corps, Smith and his wife Rebekah were ready to leave the nomadic military lifestyle behind to give their five children a place to identify as home. Returning to their roots in southern Louisiana, the couple made that home at Smith Angus Farm, part of the Walter L. Smith Farm, a farm with a long, rich history.

Recognized as a centennial farm by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, the Walter L. Smith Farm received a land grant in 1892. That grant was used by Jason Smith’s Great, Great, Grandfather Walter Lorrain Smith and his wife Emma to clear longleaf pine and make a living off the land. “The original farm has actually been in my family even before 1892,” notes Smith.

According to Smith family lore, Smith’s ancestors first stepped foot on the land before it was part of the United States. The Spanish, who owned it at that time, chased off the people settling there. When the British took possession of the land, many of those people returned, including Smith’s ancestors. Ultimately the region was annexed by the United States, and Walter L. Smith officially laid claim to the land after receiving the land grant in 1892.

Functioning primarily as a dairy from the 1930s through the 1960s, the farm gradually transitioned to beef. Today Jason continues to run beef on the land – this time with a managed grazing approach.

Making changes, adding shade

Before he transitioned from officer to rancher, Smith needed to make sure the farm would be a viable business to support his family. “I thought – if you buy everything retail and sell everything wholesale, eventually you will be out of business, which is how most small family farms seem to be going,” says Smith.

After extensive research, he concluded a managed grazing system would enable him to be a good steward of the land, cut input costs and produce a healthy grass-fed product he could sell.

In 2017, he went to work removing the fixed, barbed-wire fencing and setting up paddocks. Since not all paddocks had available shade, he needed a way to protect his cattle from the punishing Louisiana sun. “It was September. I was doing some fencing and it was about 1000 degrees outside,” he recalls. “I was miserable, and I’m not a black cow. I thought ‘I’ve got to do something’, so I made the call to Shade Haven.”

Smith purchased two SH1200 mobile shade systems in 2018. He purchased a third in 2021 and a fourth in October 2022. Prior to the first purchase, he considered having a mobile shade structure built by a local manufacturer. “The price he quoted me wasn’t that much cheaper than the fully developed Shade Haven product…I liked the idea of buying a product that is already made, that already has a track record of success.”

Smith moves his four Shade Havens along with 140 Angus beef through paddocks on his 240-acre farm. With frequent storms and strong winds in southern Louisiana, he appreciates the ease of retracting and opening the mobile shade structures. “I need something I can move every day, and something that is resilient to both the animals and the weather. That’s what sold me on the Shade Haven.”

The Shade Havens allow Smith to control nutrient distribution on his pasture, something important to his regenerative plan. “I want to use the manure as an asset not a liability. To do that, we have to put the cows in the middle of the pasture where there are no trees,” he adds. “If you have black cows in Louisiana anywhere from May to Oct without shade, you will end up with a lot of dead animals during a heatwave. I have to have shade.”

Smith convinced his NRCS office to expand its cost-share program to include a Shade Haven – which is significantly more mobile than the structure they already funded. He used NRCS funds toward the purchase of his first two Shade Havens in 2018, making him the first in Louisiana to own a Shade Haven. That’s something he is happy to proclaim. “I’m a sucker for something that is well-designed and functional, and if the Shade Haven is anything, it’s well-designed and functional.”

A viable business

Jason Smith’s father ran Smith Angus Farm while living in Baton Rouge and working full-time for the Louisiana state police. Commuting back to the farm when he could, he handled the livestock in a way that fit his situation. “In those nine years, he adopted practices that allowed the cows to be without him for three or four days at a time,” explains Smith, noting the negative impact the continuous grazing practice left on the land.

As a full-time rancher, Smith has the time his father did not have to graze in a way that sustains his beef on grass year-round. “I’ve been pleased with the results of it all. Most people don’t get excited about watching grass grow, but I get pretty excited about that.”

Since 2019 Smith Angus has sold its grass-fed beef direct to customers and restaurants. “That was probably the biggest change we made. I wanted a value-added product,” says Smith. “I went through the process of getting a USDA approved label and found a USDA processor in Mississippi.”

Business boomed in 2020 with increased consumer interest in buying local and knowing your farmer. Sales continue to increase annually since Smith started selling direct.

“When people come out to our farm, they see it is a farm. It’s what people envision when they eat a steak. They don’t envision a feedlot, they envision an animal on grass, eating what nature intended.”

Healing power

The restorative power grazing has on the soil is reciprocated by healing the soul and psyche of those who work the land. As a veteran of two tours in Iraq and recipient of a Silver Star for action in Fallujah, Smith knows first-hand the toll of war and the therapeutic value of a hard day’s work on the farm.

“As much frustration as farming provides, that is also the thing that makes it enjoyable. You get to see your impact on the environment; you get to see your impact on the land – the results are right there,” says Smith. “There are a lot of jobs where people never see the results of the things they work on. You feel like you aren’t adding value to anything.”

Smith sees the value he adds every time he moves his cattle to a new paddock. He knows his efforts are impacting the health of the soil when he sees birds flocking around his pasture in December. And he’s adding value to the farm’s bottom line and to the lives of his customers by producing and selling a healthy product.

On the farm’s website, he invites veterans to come to the farm. He wants fellow Marines and other military vets suffering from physical injuries or PTST to experience that kind of healing, to see the impact of their hard work and avoid the path of self-medication or suicide. Though nobody has taken him up on his offer yet, Smith notes, “The offer is still there.”

The Shade Haven team thanks Jason Smith for his service. We’re proud to be part of the grazing plan at this centennial farm and wish the Smiths success for many more generations.




From special ops to a special farm

Shade Haven customer Ron Locke shares the story of his Long Lane, Missouri farm with Hay & Forage Grower, January 1, 2023.


For years, providing shade in some of Locke’s paddocks proved to be a challenge and limited his ability to move cows to certain areas during the hot Missouri summers. Trained to be a problem solver, Locke found his solution with a heavy-duty portable shade unit that he’s been utilizing for the past four years. As the cows move, so does the shade, which he can hook to his utility task vehicle (UTV), move, and set up in a matter of minutes. 

Read article here.

Minnesota Grazing

MicBri Acres, Eden Valley, MN

Mike and Bridget Klein heal the land with cattle

Since moving to their 40-acre farm in Eden Valley, Minnesota in 2006, Mike and Bridget Klein have been rotational grazing to build organic matter in the soil and heal the land, damaged from many years of row cropping. In August 2021, they further increased their soil-healing efforts with the purchase of a Shade Haven mobile shade system.

“When we first bought our farm, the land was rented out for corn, beans, corn, beans – so the organic matter was down quite a bit,” explains Mike Klein. “In the pastures, the middle part [where there is no natural shade] is the part that isn’t going to refurbish as fast, so we put the Shade Haven there and get the nutrients exactly where they should be.”

The Kleins move their 100% grass-fed American Aberdeen beef cattle through multiple .7-acre paddocks every 24 hours. Mike frequently moves the cattle along with the Shade Haven multiple times daily within that paddock. “Because we use polywire and leave the four-wheeler in the pasture, we can just hook up and move the Shade Haven ahead another 100 feet, so we spread the fertility around.”

The grazing plan

Managed grazing is not a new concept to this couple, who both grew up on Minnesota farms that practiced rotational grazing. Mike recalls some neighbors’ reactions to their managed grazing strategy. “They would comment that we were not using the grass up; we were wasting it. But on those summer days when our pastures were green and their pastures were brown, we knew we were doing the right thing.”

The Kleins usually have 30 head of cattle on the ground, including cow/calf pairs and heifers. Four-strand high-tensile fence lines the perimeter, and paddocks are fenced with 14-guage or polywire.

Mike and Bridget Klein

“We’ve moved progressively toward more and more polywire, because of the flexibility of it and recognizing that maintaining lanes is something we need,” notes Bridget. Because they breed their cows through artificial insemination, the lanes allow them to easily move the cows to be bred when the time is right. “We let them naturally come into heat,” she adds.

The record heat and drought conditions in summer 2021 forced the Klein’s to slow down their grazing rotation. “Our pasture wasn’t able to keep up; longer rest periods were needed for the sake of the grass,” noted Bridget. “We didn’t want to set back everything in the soil health and plant system, so we did feed supplemental hay.”

Concerned about cattle health in the extreme heat, the Kleins were forced to bale graze their cattle only where they had access to natural shade. That changed when they purchased a SH600 mobile shade structure in August 2021.

“I was really excited to get the Shade Haven in the paddock,” Bridget recalls. “We were able to move the bale grazing away from the trees. We could keep them grazing, keep them rotating… keep that fertility depositing, moving around. Honestly, our pastures in 2022 where we applied that management practice in 2021 look really good. It’s exciting to see that!”

Life on the farm

When she’s not wrangling cattle, Bridget works as a nurse. Now retired, Mike spends his day tending to the beef and to 4,000 to 5,000 hardneck garlic plants, which he harvests and sells along with the farm’s grassfed beef products.

The Kleins market their products through their Facebook page, MicBri Acres LLC, and through an email list that goes out to existing and new customers when beef and/or garlic is ready to sell. They typically offer past customers first dibs at quarter, half, and whole beef portions prior to processing. Additionally, they sell 20 lb. packs of ground beef.

As the saying goes, “You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl,” and Bridget Klein is no exception. Mike recalls that acquiring land and cattle was part of the deal when the couple got married. Now neither one can imagine life any other way.

“It’s great to have the cattle around,” says Bridget. “It’s great to be on the land and to see the improvements we’ve been able to accomplish, to help heal the soil with the animals.”

Funding for Mobile Shade

By Reed Doerr, Shade Haven President

With inflation dominating the headlines, wouldn’t it be nice to get a break on the cost of something that improves the lives and health of your livestock? Throughout this year, I have received countless phone calls from NRCS field agents around the country excited to learn more about the Shade Haven. Providing shade has long been a part of EQIP [Environmental Quality Incentives Program], but for some states 2022 is the first year that mobile shade has received funding, and it could not come at a better time.

The Shade Haven continues to be the only real solution to mobile shade for graziers. It is a piece of machinery that adds so much more to your farm then the lonely oak tree in the back 40. Owners frequently boast about its importance, from the behavior of their animals to the quality of their pastures.  In many cases, farmers very quickly buy a second Shade Haven for their group of steers, or weaned calves. Relief from the hot sun becomes as obvious as providing water to a parched animal; what is the reasonable life expectancy much less performance of a stressed or otherwise dying animal?

In a recent conversation with a Missouri NRCS field agent, I learned that Missouri also recognizes access to shade is an important part of a grazing plan. In 2022, Missouri farmers receive $4.66/sq. ft. or $5.60/sq. ft., depending on qualifications, toward the cost of a mobile shade system for their animals. That translates into $5,590 or $6,700 savings on the SH1200. Other states offer varying rates of funding per square foot of shade.

For many states, EQIP funding applications are due in October, but deadlines vary from state to state. I recommend contacting your local NRCS agent to ask about mobile shade funding. Fill out the application now, so when next year’s grazing season arrives, your cows don’t suffer in what seems to be hotter, longer summers!

Find your local NRCS office here.

Better Soil, Better Grazing

Getting the Shade Haven ready for another grazing season

Tennessee Beef farmer and rotational grazier John Abe Teague looks forward to implementing new regenerative farming strategies in the 2020 grazing season.

“We are embracing regenerative agriculture to improve our grasslands, heal our land, increase forage diversity, and improve the health of our soil and livestock, while keeping more of our dollars on the farm instead of paying for inputs,” says Teague.

Two Shade Haven mobile shade systems are part of Teague’s regenerative plan. “I tell people the only reason I am able to farm our land and raise cattle is because of Shade Haven,” he says.

“After acquiring the first Shade Haven in 2015, we developed more infrastructure with paddocks and spring fed water tanks in each paddock, enhancing our ability to improve cattle rotations,” adds Teague. “Annually we have taken soil samples, drilled seed, and clipped our fescue/orchard grass pastures preventing endophyte toxicity and to keep the farm attractive.”

Making changes

While his farm has definitely benefited from rotational grazing, Teague was inspired to do more after attending the 2019 Regenerative Soil Summit in Greeneville, Tennessee, and spending time on Ray Archuleta’s farm in Seymore, Missouri. There Archuleta and fellow regenerative ag experts Gabe Brown and Dr. Alan Williams taught Teague how to use Adaptive Stewardship to restore the functional biodiversity of the soil.

“The soil biology must be a priority. That is where it all begins,” notes Teague.

Teague leased an additional 20 acres in October with plans to improve the grass density and rotation. He drilled his pasture land with a mixture of Marshall Rye grass, Kentucky Fescue 31 and Orchard Grass, and will add 2-3 lbs. per acre of Ladino clover in March. He plans to seed a sacrifice field, where he wintered his cattle, with Ladino Clover, red clover, Fescue 31, Orchard Grass and some brassicas.

Teague also intends to reduce his herd of 42 Angus cattle, keeping the highly productive cows and replacement heifers.

A second Shade Haven SH1200 purchased in late 2019, enables him to better utilize his property and move the weaned calves into rotation grazing away from the main herd, providing less competition and better grass diversity.

“My twin Shade Havens allow me to utilize all the grass resources on the farm and not just where the cattle choose to eat,” adds Teague.

Mobile shade also fits Teague’s vision of raising livestock humanely. “God put us on his earth to have domain over the animals, and it is our responsibility to raise them humanely,” he adds. “That means giving them the three basic needs of life – grass, water and shade. But we do so in a manner that recognizes stewardship of both the land and the animals.”