Shade is a must for pasture-based grazing systems. Shade helps to protect against heat stress in cattle. When temperatures are over 77 degrees Fahrenheit, cattle may begin to experience heat stress depending on a number of factors, such as relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed, access to water, and diet. Although cattle typically prefer shade from trees rather than from constructed structures, these shade shelters are able to be moved and protect tree roots from becoming damaged.
Portable, low-cost shade structures can be built from 2.5 inch pipe and welded into a frame study enough to withstand cattle. Frames should have a skid-type bottom for easier transport. A portable shade structure should be no more than 10 x 20 feet to be practical. Shade cloth is typically used as the roof covering to allow air movement. You want to use a cloth that reduces light by 80%. Shade cloth is commonly available in black, though lighter colors reflect more heat. If secured tightly to the frame, shade cloth can last about five years before it needs to be replaced. You can also use solid roofing, such as corrugated metal, which is a cost-effective, low-maintenance option.
The cost to build a 10x20 structure is estimated around $1,100 - $1,200. This include the 10x20 sheet of pre-grommeted 70# occluded shade cloth.
Plans and dimensions for a shade structure can be found in the University of Kentucky publication below.