Tag: Mobile Shade

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.”

What’s Your 2020 Regenerative Commitment?

Regenerative agriculture is creating a buzz throughout the food and agriculture world. It’s no longer enough to farm sustainably. We need to do more. As we head into a new decade, regenerative agriculture techniques should be the priority of everyone who cares about improving soils, producing healthy food and contributing to solving our climate change problem. Is Regenerative Agriculture among the values you prioritize in the new decade?

To identify farms embracing regenerative principles, look for the ones with the greenest pastures, greatest diversity, and animals on the land. Since grazing is a key component of regenerative agriculture, farmers need tools that allow them to keep their herds grazing even on the hottest days. If you drive through the countryside and see a Shade Haven mobile shade system it’s a clear sign of a farm’s commitment to regenerative agriculture. It’s a tool that enables the even distribution of nutrients to boost pasture health, while protecting livestock from heat stress to keep them grazing and productive.

“I’ve been rotationally grazing on my farm for 12 years, and I’ve used a Shade Haven for eight years,” says southwest Wisconsin farmer and Shade Haven founder Vince Hundt.

“It’s like an umbrella on an oasis – symbolizing healthy soil and healthy food,” adds Hundt. “This umbrella – this mobile shade system – along with rotational grazing practices builds organic matter, increases fertility and protects my farm from weather extremes.”

After experiencing record rainfall in 2018 and 2019, Hundt compared his farm to nearby farms utilizing conventional farming practices.

“My farm fared much better than others around me, because I rotationally graze,” says Hundt. “By grazing a paddock, then allowing a 30-40 day rest period before returning animals, we are building the soil’s capacity to hold water and withstand weather extremes. We have no exposed soil and a heavy, deep root system to soak up water and be there when you need it.”

Win, Win, Win

Regenerative agriculture is a win for farmers, human health and the planet – and grazing is a key component. By building soil, graziers are actually sequestering carbon and contributing to reversing climate change. And there is no denying the health benefits of grass-fed versus confinement-raised meat. Additionally studies have found that grass-based farms are economically competitive with their larger confinement counterparts.

“In the end, my revenues are the same or better than farms practicing confinement methods,” says Hundt . “I’m spending zero on fertilizer and weed control and , close to zero on veterinary costs.”

If you can farm in a way that is better for the environment, produces a healthier product and provides a bigger financial return, why wouldn’t you do it?

Tell us about your 2020 commitment to Regenerative Agriculture.

Grazing with Shade in Alabama

BDA Farm is a 6,200-acre certified organic produce and livestock operation in Uniontown, AL. With a focus on regenerative agriculture, BDA produces more than 40 varieties of vegetables and herbs and moves 1,000 beef, 500 sheep and 3,000 laying hens across 4,000+ acres.

“The role of our livestock is to convert grass to an end product, apply fertility and regenerate the soil,” says farm Manager Benjamin Moore, who refers to the livestock as “employees.”

Those employees need protection from the hot Alabama sun, and BDA found a shade solution that fits their grazing strategy. Since June, four SH1200 Shade Haven mobile shade systems have moved through the paddocks at BDA.

“They are extremely easy to move and very well designed. They have traveled across 6,000 acres,” says Moore. “We are pulling them with 4-wheelers, one man, no problem. We can get them through any of our gates.”

Repairing and rejuvenating the soil is top priority at BDA and mobile shade helps to build soil and maintain healthy pastures. “It allows us to avoid heat stress while keeping animals in places where we really need that impact,” says Moore. “With the Shade Haven – especially where we are reclaiming row crop land with no trees – we have the ability to better utilize the livestock by giving them a tool to do their job.”

The livestock at BDA are grazed using an adaptive grazing method. Adaptive grazing is intensive rotational grazing, varying grazing heights and rest periods, and adapting to changing conditions.

In operation since 2011, BDA sells its produce to CSA members, at farmers markets and to top restaurants in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham metro areas. The farm direct markets its proteins and also sells to conventional markets and processors.

“Our intent is to continually grow our direct market and let that compete with our wholesale,” says Moore. “We provide the scale that is appealing to wholesale buyers. All while we are trying to grow our brand…to meet the need of people looking for a more environmentally conscious, more health-conscious product.”

Shade Haven is proud to be part of the regenerative efforts at BDA Farm and wishes them continued success.

Learn more about BDA Farm at www.bdafarm.com

Fall Grazing with Greg Judy

Grazing expert Greg Judy shares his grass-growing and grazing expertise.

Frequent moves, never over grazing, and providing shade are all part of the grazing strategy on Greg Judy’s farms in Rucker, Missouri. Judy grazes South Poll cows, cow/calf pairs, bred heifers, bulls and stockers across 16 farms – four owned and 12 leased.

The two-a-day moves Judy makes with his cattle don’t slow down in the autumn months.  “That’s because we have been able to grow so much grass,” he explains.

According to Judy, having ample grass in the fall begins in the spring. “When you give your grass a little head start in the spring and you don’t over graze, it sends back more appendages…If you take off say 1/3 of the leaves, you are going to get more coming back. That is what we have done across all of our farms.”


Stockpiling period typically runs August 1 through the first killing frost. There are two stockpiling methods used by graziers. One is locking cattle down and preventing them from grazing a portion of the pasture. This, Judy says, is not a good strategy for success.

“The problem with that method is when you lock your cattle down on a smaller part of the farm, they over graze that area. You may even have to feed some hay to buy enough time for the rest of your farm to recover and grow stockpile.”

This method could even result in animals dropping weight, adds Judy. “They are used to being moved and all of the sudden you are locking them down. Your cows are losing condition going into winter.”

A better strategy is continually grazing cattle, making sure they never eat the grass down too short. Currently on the fourth rotation on his farms, Judy adds “As we graze around our farms, we are taking just the tips and moving on.”

A farm visitor recently asked Judy why he was moving the cattle when there was so much grass there. He replied, “That’s why I have all this grass. It’s because we moved them.”

The importance of shade

While this might be the time of year for stockpiling, it also includes some of the hottest grazing days. Providing shade for grazing cattle is a top priority for Judy. “We have 350 animals out there. If it’s 90 degrees, I want to make sure they can ALL get in the shade. That’s how important I think shade is.”

“We are in the weight conversion business. If animals are hot and they’re stressed, they are not putting on,” says Judy, using a phrase his father used. “They are not putting weight on.”

Judy’s farm is in an area with rolling hills and trees in every paddock. And while he doesn’t require movable shade himself, he notes for those without trees, “Moveable shade is best, because you’re moving the fertility around your pasture.”

While conducting a workshop in July, Judy observed two Shade Haven mobile shade systems. “It’s a great product, and the fact that you can hook it on to your Kubota and move it is priceless. It’s like planting a tree in your pasture every day that you move your animals. And you’re moving nutrients around. That’s what I like about it.”

No bare soil here

You won’t find bare soil anywhere on Judy’s farms.  That’s because he never lets cattle graze it down that far.

“You can’t intercept solar energy with bare soil. We call ourselves light interceptors. We are trying to intercept that sun before it hits that ground onto a blade of grass, or a bush or it might even be a weed – I don’t care as long as something is growing. I detest bare soil.”

The war against bare soil has an added benefit of easing the impact of weather extremes. “I think droughts and these weather extremes are getting more frequent. We are going to have to learn to manage around this,” notes Judy. “The way you manage around droughts is by keeping longer leaves on your plants. If you always manage your farm like you are in a drought, you will be in pretty good shape when you are in a drought.”

He knows he’s doing it right when his feet get wet walking through the pasture at 11 a.m. on a 90-degree day. “Why are my feet wet? It’s because of the dew. If you have a lot of leaves out there, they capture the dew. So your plants get a little bit of a drink, even in a drought. That’s all they need.”

Judy’s final fall tip for graziers: Observe the condition of your livestock. “In October, any animal on your farm that has a bone sticking out, get rid of it. Don’t take it through the winter. If it looks bad in October, guess what it’s going to look like in January? Don’t let her eat the precious feed that the good ones need. That’s a good way to go broke.”

Catch more grazing tips from Greg Judy on his YouTube channel or attend one of his upcoming workshops.

  • Sept 25-26, 2019 – Stockman GrassFarmer Multi-Species Grazing School, Albany, NY
  • October 6-7th, 2019 Carolina Meat Conference, Charlotte, NC

More information on Greg Judy and his farms at http://greenpasturesfarm.net/