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Cool Cows and Climate Change - Information for Dairy Farmers
Trees for shade
Case Study: Trees for shade
Portable shade structures
Case Study: Portable shade structures
Sprinklers
Case Study: Paddock Sprinklers

Infrastructure

Paddocks & laneways

Trees for shade


If you want to keep your cows cool, always start with shade. Shade is the most effective way of reducing heat load because it blocks solar radiation, so providing shade to the herd should be your first priority.

Priorities for cooling cows

1. Use shade first

Minimise heat gain – block solar radiation

2. Use sprinklers and fans

Maximise heat loss – encourage evaporative cooling


Natural paddock shade

Trees can be planted in paddocks or laneways and can reduce the radiant heat load by 50% or more.

The shade and shelter that trees in paddocks and along laneways provide can be used strategically to manage both heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.


Strengths:

  • Trees are the cheapest method of providing shade.
  • Trees absorb CO2 and don’t require electricity to establish or maintain.
  • Trees enhance local biodiversity.

Limitations:

  • It takes many years to establish plantings.
  • It can be difficult to provide adequate shade every day during paddock rotation.
  • Trees along laneways can be a risk in severe wind conditions.
  • You may need supplemental irrigation to establish or speed up tree growth.

Keys to success

  • WHEN REDESIGNING farm layouts, consider orientating the long axis of paddocks north-south to help maximise shade/shelter.
  • AIM FOR 4 m2 of shade/cow at midday. 
  • SEEK RECOMMENDATIONS on suitable tree and shrub species from an adviser, e.g. Greening Australia, Regional NRM bodies like local CMA, DPI or Landcare. 
  • STRATEGICALLY PLANT species based on natural traits, e.g. West Australian swampy yate, can minimise grass growth beneath its canopy through the secretion of a toxin. 
  • DECIDUOUS TREES will allow solar radiation to penetrate through canopies and allow laneways to dry out quicker in the winter. 
  • FENCE OUTSIDE the perimeter of the tree root systems to protect trees from excessive compaction and manure that may kill some species. 
  • LOCATE FEED and drinking water 20-30 metres away from trees so that cows don’t defecate excessively in the shaded areas.




It’s said that the best time to plant trees was 20 years ago.
The next best time is now! These photos show

what can be achieved in a short time.

Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry