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Mobile Shade Cloth Keeps Cattle Cool
When Bernard Hand of Fillmore, Ill., decided to raise cattle on organic land 3 years ago, he switched to rotational grazing. He has 2 different cow herds and needed shade for cows, newborn calves and feeder cattle in pastures scattered up to a mile apart.
  He and his brother Dennis solved the problem by building a pair of large, portable shade units using shade cloth. One unit extends high above a 1971 Ford truck, and the other mounts above a transport trailer that was flipped upside down to gain more height.
  The truck-mounted shade cloth measures 40 ft. sq. while the trailer-mounted shade measures 40 ft. long by 20 ft. wide. A 4-wheeler ATV is used to pull it.
  “They look a little odd but they really work well,” says Hand. “Our neighbors like to call them experimental aircrafts. We move the shade units every 24 hours to keep the cattle from trampling the grass too much in each area, and to keep manure spread out as much as possible since we don’t use any synthetic fertilizer on our pastures. They’re lightweight, which makes them easy to move; yet they’re heavy enough that cows can’t tip them over.
  “During winter, we take the shade cloths and their frames apart and store them in a shed. A local high school boy who’s taking welding classes in our local school did much of the welding work, which I greatly appreciated.”
  They got the shade cloth from a neighbor who was no longer using it. It came in 40 by 20-ft. sections. They used heavy zip ties to tie all the sections to a frame made from light tubing. The tubing bolts to a 2 by 4 wooden frame attached to the floor of the truck bed.
  The trailer-mounted shade cloth mounts on a frame made from 1/2-in. rebar, which is welded to a 1-in. dia. steel pipe frame that’s welded to the trailer’s wheel supports.
  “We’ve used the truck-mounted shade for 3 years and couldn’t be happier with it,” says Hand. “We built the rotary hoe-mounted shade late last summer so it hasn’t gotten much use yet. We got the idea from Joel Salatin in Virginia, who promotes organic farming and first made a portable metal shade cloth unit about 35 years ago.
  “The truck-mounted shade cloth is 40 ft. wide, so driving it down the road can get a little tricky. We drive along one side of the road to avoid contacting electric poles. I thought the shade cloth might tear apart in strong winds, but it hasn’t because the wind goes right through it. The truck unit has a high center of gravity and the truck has a narrow wheelbase so I drive really slow.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bernard Hand, 12284 E. 21st Rd., Fillmore, Ill. 62032 (ph 217 538-2051; Bernard.hand@conklinibo.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6