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Portable shade for cattle

Cattle shades may mitigate heat stress for livestock, says Jim Krantz, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist. Indications are that about a 20 degree air temperature difference can be realized through the presence of a shade.

To ensure sufficient airflow, Krantz says cattle producers need to consider these factors when constructing a shade:

  • Shades are typically constructed toward the center of a pen to allow cattle access to shade as the shaded area moves across the pen during the day.
  • Designs that include a north-south orientation consistently provide dryer pen surfaces as the shadow provided by the shade moves over a greater area.
  • Constructing shades over or near waters is not advised.
  • It is highly recommended that areas beneath shade structures be regularly cleaned of wet manure to limit odor and ammonia production and maintain a desirable lot surface.
  • Increased shade height will allow for greater air movement and cleaning with equipment but is more costly as well. Fourteen foot heights typically allow for both.

Galvanized or aluminum materials have been utilized in the past as roof materials as has slats. However, light-colored fabric is becoming the material of choice recently. It is effective in providing desirable shaded areas and is particularly easier to handle if the roofs are removed or rolled up in the winter.

Consulting with a feedlot engineer is recommended for anyone considering the construction of feedlot shades. When constructed and used properly, they can mitigate the stresses caused by extreme heat and humidity.

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