Evaluation of different shades to improve dairy cattle well-being in Argentina
International Journal of Biometeorology , 41 , 1997

Valtorta, S.E., Leva, P.E., Gallardo, M.R.

Two tree shades (TS1 and TS2) and an artificial shade structure (AS) were evaluated using black globe temperatures (BGTs) to assess their effectiveness in reducing heat load. The artificial structure consisted of a black woven polypropylene cloth providing 80% shade, mounted on 2.5-m-high eucalyptus posts. The work was carried out at Rafaela Experimental Station, Argentina, during the summer (January and February) 1994. BGTs and floor temperatures were measured in concrete floor holding pens with and without artifical shade. The results showed no difference between TS1, TS2 and AS, their average BGTs being 30.2 (SD 0.58), 29.0 (SD 0.70) and 30.2 (SD 0.74)°C, respectively. BGTs under all three shades were significantly lower (P<0.01) than the average BGT recorded outside: 35.5 (SD 1.12)°C. Average BGTs in holding pens were 32.4 (SD 1.38) and 39.9 (SD 1.91)°C for shaded and non-shaded areas (P<0.01). The corresponding average floor temperatures were 27.8 (SD 0.68)°C and 47.7 (SD 2.13)°C (P<0.01). To assess the effects of shade on animal well-being, afternoon rectal temperatures (RT) and respiratory rate (respirations per minute, RR) of lactating cows were recorded twice a week. Rectal temperatures were significantly higher for non-shaded cows (P<0.01), mean RT being 40.1 (SD 0.65)°C vs 39.3 (SD 0.42)°C for the shaded animals. Corresponding RRs were 78.9 (SD 18.0) and 60.7 (SD 10.6) (P<0.05). It was concluded that: (1) tree and artificial shades produced similar effects, (2) shading the holding pen with an 80% shading cloth was effective in reducing heat load and floor temperatures, and (3) access to shade in our pasture-based system improved animal well-being.