Shade and wind barrier effects on summertime feedlot cattle performance
Journal of Animal Science , 77 , 1999

Mader, T.L., Dahlquist, J.M., Hahn, G.L., Gaughan, J.B.

In each of three summertime trials conducted over consecutive years, approximately 110 predominantly black and black-white-face steers were blocked by weight and randomly allotted to one of 16 pens in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Factors consisted of cattle being fed in facilities with or without wind barriers and with or without shade. Steers were fed dry-rolled corn-based diets (1.43 Mcal/ kg, NEg) . Mean starting date and days on feed were June 26 and 79, respectively. In unshaded areas, temperature and humidity averaged 21.6°C and 77.9%, and the blackglobe-humidity index (BGHI) at 1500 averaged between 84.0 and 89.1. Each of four 6.1- × 6.1-m structures (mean height = 3.4 m) with white steel roofs provided shade (2.65 m2 /steer) for two pens. In facilities with wind barriers provided, airflow was reduced from the north and northwest by a 25-m-wide shelterbelt containing six rows of trees. For cattle fed in pens with wind barriers, shade increased ( P < .05) gain from 0 to 56 d and decreased ( P < .05) DMI/ADG from 0 to 28 d. Differences ( P < 05) in performance were not found between shaded. and unshaded cattle in any portion of the feeding period for cattle fed in the pens without wind barriers and over the entire feeding period in either type of facility. The shade response in pens with wind barriers seemed to be greater the 1st yr than in subsequent years. Differences in weather patterns among years, especially air temperature, humidity, and solar radiation, may partially explain this interaction. Also, in yr 1, cattle tended to have greater fat thickness at finish than in yr 2 and 3. Correlations between BGHI and DMI tended to be greater during the early portion of the trial (0 to 28 d) than over the entire trial. Correlations between the difference in BGHI under shade vs no shade and percentage of shade use had the greatest magnitude and were significant only in the first 28 d vs over the entire feeding period. Although no heat-related cattle deaths occurred in this study, results suggest that shade improves cattle performance in the summer when they are fed in facilities with winter wind protection available and have not become acclimated to hot conditions. Once cattle are acclimated or hot conditions subside, compensation by unshaded cattle offsets much of the initial benefits of providing shade