Shade structures are not only important in keeping heifers cool but can be instrumental in maintaining growth rates and reproductive performance. The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association offers the following tips for constructing shade structures during this summer season:
- Situate structures north to south. As the sun moves around the sky, so will the shade and the heifers will follow. This allows the area left behind to be exposed to sunlight and have the chance to dry, preventing mud holes from developing under the shade. Feedbunks usually run north to south, as well, which simplifies arranging the shade structures.
- Less is more. One long shade structure is better than multiple smaller ones. Heifers will tend to crowd under one shade cloth even if there is room elsewhere.
- Do a maintenance check. Shade clothes should be tight so there is minimal wind damage, and cloth should be replaced if it is in bad condition. The steel parts may need maintenance coatings. Portable structures should be moved occasionally to prevent blocking sunlight for vegetation.
This article was originally published in Hoard’s Dairyman Magazine, May 25, 2014 issue, and appears here with the consent of the publisher. All content is copyrighted by it’s respective owners.