Shade may not be an issue for many cattle producers because it's already part of the pasture system, says Ohio State University's (OSU) Rory Lewandowski. But for those who may be in the position to decide if shade is or isn't provided to cattle, the possible advantages and disadvantages of shade must be considered, along with other methods that cattle might have to cope with heat stress, writes the Athens County Extension educator.
In a review of shade research in a recent OSU newsletter, Lewandowski shares the results of a 1970s OSU study that found, over a four-year period, that steers grazing summer pasture gained 19 lbs. more on average if they had access to shade than if they didn't. More specifically, if there were only 30 days when the temperature was 85ºF. or higher -- and when the temperature combined with humidity totaled 130 or more -- the gain advantage was only 4 lbs. In years when the threshold of 130 was met or surpassed 50-60 days, the advantage in gain was 27-30 lbs. if shade was available.
You can access Lewandowski's article at fairfield.osu.edu/ag/beef/beefJly26.html.