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.