Feedpad Shade Structures
Permanent shade structures over feedpads can reduce the impact of heat stress on overall farm productivity.
Permanent shade sheds are an investment that provide excellent protection from solar radiation, but they must be well designed and constructed. A well considered orientation for the site will shift the shaded area across the pads during the day. This spreads manure deposits over a larger area as the cows move with the shade.
Also, the sun will strike each part of the pad at some point over the day. This allows the feed pad to dry out evenly after rainfall. Whether the pad is earthen or concrete, pads and drive alleys must consider run-off into farm effluent systems. The drainage system controls and directs all run-off away from the pads.
The raised floors and pitched roofs allow storm water to be effectively managed and not end on the pad floor, so there are no wet patches for cows to lie in. Secondly, they enhance convective air movement from under the roofs. A structural engineer will be able to advise on the best design for the location.
Feedpads that encourage the cows to sit in cleaner areas of the feedpad can reduce the chance of mastitis. Alongside daily scraping, farmers can change the locations of the feed and water trough to encourage the cows to rest in cleaner areas of the feedpad.
An effectively designed and built shade shed provides:
- sufficient room for resting and standing
- comfortable, hygienic lying surfaces
- clean, dry surfaces for standing and feed placement
- a safe environment to minimise injury
- smooth, quiet stock movement.
Note that the orientation and roof design of the shade structure will influence the amount of solar radiation that it can block.
- Have a long useful life, at least 25 years.
- Doubles as a feedout facility,
- Can be used to protect pastures and prevent soil pugging during prolonged periods of rainfall.
- Can be used to break the growth cycle of parasites such as cattle tick and reduce the need for chemicals.
- Can be fitted with evaporative cooling systems such as sprinklers and fans.
- Can be converted into a freestall or integrated with loafing pads if well designed.
- Location on farm is not always ideal for paddock rotation.
- High capital cost to provide shade. Cost depends on amount of concrete; type of roof, strength of structure required to support roof and the effluent management system.
- Must have an effective system for handling effluent and run-off, otherwise cow comfort and production may be compromised.
- Need to comply with regulatory authorities (e.g. local council building permit for solids roof structures.
Keys to success
- SHADE STRUCTURES CLOSER TO THE DAIRY will make management easier, as staff can monitor the herd while preparing for milking or post-milking clean-up.
- CONSIDER PREVAILING WINDS, radiation from the sun and rainfall. Structures need to be able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
- DAILY SCRAPING of earthen feedpad surfaces helps manage the risk of mastitis.
- AN EFFECTIVE EFFLUENT SYSTEM for handling effluent and run-off.