Do cattle need shade in the hot summer heat? For years there has been a debate over rather shade for cattle is actually needed, however, there are real studies proving shade for livestock, is beneficial and cattle with shade will outperform their counterparts with no shade. A study published by McIlvain and Shoop in 1970 entitled “Shade for Improving Cattle Gains and Rangeland Use,” documented shade benefited cattle when there were 50 to 60 hot, humid days in the summer. Their study noted weight gain of 27 to 30 pounds per steer that had access to shade, over their counterparts with no shade. It is the heat combined with high humidity that can hinder their performance and potentially cause heat stress.
It also has been proven that cattle prefer to congregate under shade vs. standing in water to cool themselves, theoretically imposing a threat to water quality and causing soil erosion to creeks and ponds.
While natural shade can work, one of the shortcomings is it draws the animals to continually stand in the same spot, creating a manure build up which can be unhealthy for your animals leaving behind, soil that is imbalanced for growing anything for several years. If there is no shade in pastures cattle tend to stand in the same spot, which kills grass producing bare spots, generating hotter conditions for the animals. Consider a portable shade unit, Genesis Mobile Shade Canopy gives livestock owners the flexibility to provide shade anywhere. It can easily be moved with an ATV, encouraging cattle to move with it. Genesis Mobile Shade Canopy potentially improves cattle performance, encourages more even grazing, helps to keep them cooler, and can alleviate bare spots in your pasture. In addition, the mobile shade unit, can potentially lessen damage to ponds and streams.
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Information for this article was sources from Is Shade Necessary for Cattle July 26, 2006 by Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Athens County https://u.osu.edu/beef/2006/07/26/is-shade-necessary-for-cattle/