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Shade That Moves Where You Need It

By   /  May 8, 2017  /  1 Comment

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Shade can solve a lot of problems. It can improve livestock grazing and production. Cattle without shade gain less weight and produce less milk than their cool counterparts. Fertility rates drop too. Shade also impacts productivity by changing where animals deposit manure, and how much of your pasture gets grazed.

What does the lack of shade cost you? Probably 20% in weight gain and 20 to 30% less milk production. Check out this article for the details on the effect on your bottom line.

But getting shade where you want it is a real problem. If your mobile shade is light enough to haul, it’s often not heavy enough to stay in place when the wind blows. If it’s heavy enough to withstand the weather, moving it becomes a pain. And making shade for all your cattle? Forget about it! Until now….

Horses pulling shade havenThe folks at Shade Haven decided that we should have movable shade to go with our movable fencing and water. So they designed what looks like an enormous sunbrella on wheels. It is light enough to be towed with an ATV or horse (or pulled by two strong people on level ground), yet will stand up to wind and sun. The canopy is 40 feet in diameter and covers over 1200 sq. ft., or about enough for 60 cows. When you’re ready to move it, it collapses into an area of less than 120 sq ft in a minute which also makes for easy storage.

Here’s a video showing how it works:

ShadehavenandcowsIn addition to better weight gain and milk production, you can use this movable shade to work with your cattle to boost pasture productivity.  For example, since cattle go where the shade goes, you could use its placement to selectively graze areas within paddocks that need more impact or more manure. Or you could simply spend less time worrying about which paddocks have shade and which don’t when you’re planning your pasture rotations.

But can you afford shade?

Buying a Shade Haven is a long-term investment, similar to any building. And like anything you purchase it needs to provide a return. What your return might be from providing more shade for your animals depends on where you are, how many days of hot weather you experience and more. But if you just take some of the figures from the article we wrote last year about the importance of shade, you can estimate your return on investment.

The folks at Shade Haven did some modeling for both beef and dairy cows to estimate production with and without shade under moderate (70 days above 80 degrees) and severe heat stress (30 days above 90). They used production figures derived from sources similar to the ones we’ve shared, to estimate improved gains or milk production. Using this information they estimate that your improved production would pay for the Shade Haven in 2 to 3 years.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit the Shade Haven website. If you have other ideas for providing shade, do share in the comments below!

natglc-logo-1Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible. Click on over to see the great work they do for all of us. Thank them for supporting On Pasture by liking their facebook page.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

1 Comment

  1. Luke says:

    I don’t think animals get any cooler all piled up on top of each other under one of these umbrellas. And back east it might be alright, but it gets windy out west. I went to a farm show a month ago and the man took down his shade umbrella ’cause a typical thunderstorm came through and was blowing pretty good. I bet that shade umbrella reacts to high wind the same way as a lawn chair.

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