Using shade on cattle to save money

A video from K-State Research and Extension, beef Extension specialist and veterinarian A.J. Tarpoff discusses the findings of a two-year study outlining the potential benefits of shade and limit-feeding in reducing heat stress in cattle.

“Heat stress is a big factor that cattle producers all over the state battle year in and year out during the summer months,” Tarpoff said.

K-State researchers found that coupling shade and offering a highly digestible ration—called limit feeding—can increase average daily gain in feeder cattle at stocker age (approximately 500 to 700 pounds) up to 7%. The study also found that feed efficiency increases in these animals by a score of 4.

“What that means is that the animals are utilizing more of the energy that we are delivering to them, making the entire system more sustainable,” Tarpoff said.

Researchers also looked at water consumption when cattle were provided additional shade and a limit-fed diet, and found that each animal’s water needs decreased by about one gallon per day—potentially thousands of dollars in water savings, according to Tarpoff.

“If you’re contemplating utilizing shade or changing your feeding practices in the summer months to improve your efficiencies and well-being of the animals, keep in mind that not only are we improving performance and reducing inputs—such as water and feed—we are also increasing cattle comfort,” he said.