A study proves the benefits of artificial shade for cattle herds in the heat of the Southeast.
Cattle producers are looking for any way to improve the performance of their cattle herds, and artificial shade is something they can be adding to their lists. A recently released study by the North Florida Research and Education Center Beef Research Unit showed “dramatic” benefits of artificial shade, according to a Southeast FarmPress article. See the details below.
Cattle Herds and Shade
Cattle have few options when faced with the heat of the sun. According to the article, “Compared with other species, cattle cannot dissipate their heat load very efficiently. Cattle do not sweat effectively and the main cooling mechanism to dissipate heat is respiration. Heat stress can cause several problems in cattle, including reduced breeding efficiency, milk production, feed intake, weight gains and even death.”
The article maintains that when temperatures climb over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, biological processes in cattle will be triggered so the animals can cope with the heat. These processes increase the maintenance of the animal and reduce performance. According to the article, other environmental conditions that contribute to lower performance due to heat stress in cattle include “minimal cloud cover, little or no air movement, high relative humidity, and overnight low temperatures above 70°F.”
Details of the Research
Researchers utilized two different sets of pasture pens, six with artificial shade and six without. Sixty replacement heifers with black hides with an average body weight of 920 pounds were divided equally between the twelve pens. Measures were taken to adjust for variances like average daily gain and gut fill. The study was conducted for 47 days.
The research showed that the heifers with artificial shade, in the form of one 24-ft by 36-ft shade cloth, gained .43 pounds per day while heifers without shade lost .04 pounds a day. The research included additional results that have not yet been released.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.
Image courtesy of Graham Horn.