The hot summer time weather is upon us, and while cattlemen know how important having adequate shade is for their herds, unfortunately for those in the path of Hurricane Michael last Fall, many of those shade trees were destroyed. And according to an article from the University of Florida/IFAS, it’s important to realize how this reduction in shade can adversely affect the performance of your herds.
The article, written by by Mark Mauldin, Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County, notes each mature cow needs about 40 square feet of shade. For rotational grazing systems, be sure that all paddocks have adequate shade. In continuous grazing systems, shade needs to be distributed, so that cattle utilize the entire pasture.
But if natural shade is no available in your pastures, it may be necessary to utilize artificial shade structures. These structures come in many forms and can be permanent or portable. In most grazing situations, portable structures with shade-cloth tops are the most effective. Because they are portable, they can reduce the negative impacts often associated with permanent high traffic areas. They can also be positioned to help maximize efficient pasture utilization. But the negative effects of heat stress can be greatly reduced if cattle have access to plenty of shade.
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