New shade system at Texas Tech Beef Center keeps cattle comfortable, healthy
By: Emily Wade
An innovative, new animal welfare product recently installed at the Texas Tech University Beef Center is providing researchers a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact that shade can have on animal health and wellness.
The shade system was developed and sold by NetPro, an Australian company that focuses on animal welfare products and solutions for livestock producers. After learning about the NetPro system, faculty and staff in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences recognized its potential benefits and was excited to install one for the cattle at the Beef Center.
Nathan Reeves, director of the Beef Center, helped oversee the installation process. He said he has already seen the positive effects it has on the cattle, noting the system can reduce temperatures on the pen floors by as much as 20-30 degrees.
"At first I was skeptical," Reeves said. "Change is a really hard thing for people to get ahold of, but I think being open-minded and adaptable and looking at the change that has happened with these cattle on their overall well-being, has been incredible."
Reeves said optimal animal welfare is a top priority for Texas Tech, and the shade system has made a drastic difference to the research program. At the Beef Center, there are currently 13 pens where the shade system services cattle. The NetPro system is composed of 39-foot by 56-foot shade cloths suspended in the air by cables in a checkerboard pattern. The cloth can block up to 70 percent of Ultraviolet (UV) rays for the cattle, which reduces heat stress.
The system can handle the harsh weather that can occur in West Texas. It can withstand wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour. The unique checkerboard pattern allows the sun to reach the pen floor to dry mud after a big thunderstorm. Since the system is generally targeted for late spring to mid-summer, when it is generally the hottest, it can be rolled up in the fall and stored to protect it from snow and ice.
Reeves acknowledged there was a large initial cost associated with installing a structure of this size, but based on the production benefits he has seen, it can be a great asset in ensuring the well being and comfort of the cattle.
Installation of the Net Pro system was performed by collaborators from Texas Tech, NetPro and McCalihane, Arizona-based JBS 5 Cattle Feeders.
CONTACT: Erica Irlbeck, Associate Professor, Agricultural Communications, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-6708 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Nathan Reeves, director, Texas Tech University Beef Center at (806) 834-2550 or Nathan.email@example.com
VIDEO: Three videos related to the new shade system at the Texas Tech University Beef Center is available here:
- B-roll of the shade system
- Nathan Reeves explains how the system works
- Nathan Reeves discusses the benefits to animal health
AUDIO: Three audio files related to the program may be accessed here:
- About the System
- Animal Health
- Shade System
- Agricultural & Applied Economics
- Agricultural Education & Communications
- Animal & Food Sciences
- Landscape Architecture
- Natural Resources Management
- Plant & Soil Science
- Veterinary Science
Editor: Norman Martin
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