Portable Shade Structures

These portable shade structures can be located in paddocks/ laneways, in dry corners of centre pivot irrigated paddocks or near portable feeding troughs and hay rings.

Portable paddock shade structures may incorporate shade cloth or corrugated iron roofing. Some shade cloth materials are now heat resistant and reflective and designed for harsh conditions. This means they can last longer, but still require some maintenance. 

Due to iron's high heat capacity, an iron-roofed structure will re-radiate heat down on to the cows. Make sure the roof is slightly higher allow for convective cooling of the structure. 

The structures are towed on wheels or skids with a tractor or four-wheel motorbike. These structures are very effective when no other cooling is available in paddocks, such as overhead sprinklers (e.g. lateral move and centre-pivot irrigators).


  • Enables you to bring the shade to the cows, as opposed to cows to the shade.
  • Best suited to smaller herds.
  • Can be readily moved with the animals, or moved to cleaner, drier locations close to feed and water when necessary.


  • May need several structures to provide sufficient shade for all animals.
  • May lead to localised pugging, nutrient build-up or compaction if not shifted regularly.
  • A time cost needs to be allocated to shifting shade structures.
  • Shorter useful life than a permanent shade structure.
  • Vulnerable to high winds.

Portable shade with wheels

Portable paddock shade structures

Other options

Low cost shade

A simple, low-cost design, but one that might not be suitable in windy conditions. (Note some shade cloth tears along the edges.)

Portable feed shade

An iron-roofed structure will re-radiate heat on the cows underneath, so where possible create a larger gap between the cows and roof.

Keys to Success

  • USE EXISTING TREE SHADE if located near property boundaries, shade structures should be positioned to take advantage of from neighbouring vegetation on road reserves.
  • RE-LOCATE STRUCTURES if manure builds up or the ground underneath is muddy. This reduces the risk of mastitis around calving time – the risk is particularly high if the condition of cows’ teat ends is poor.
  • SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE from a registered engineer or builder before you build your own structure.
  • INSTALL PROPERLY under tension, so it is not damaged by winds. Make sure that it blocks at least 80% of sunlight.
  • SEEK PROFESSIONAL advice from a registered builder or structural engineer, as the height of the portable shades will affect wind loads on the structure.
  • WIND LOAD WILL INCREASE WITH ROOF HEIGHT and therefore the base needs to be heavier and wider to prevent the wind from tipping the structure over.
  • ENSURE THERE THERE IS A GAP between the portable sections of the roof (when raised), so that heat can be vented through the top of the structure. This is especially important for iron roofed structures.
  • ENSURE WIDE FOOTINGS and the base of the structure is wide enough to support the roof spans – this needs to be worked out for the specific individual structure.