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How to Design Livestock Sun Shade Structure

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The livestock sun shade structure is a proven strategy that can reduce the impact of heat conditions on your cattle. In this article, we will walk you through the importance of cow shade structure and how you can design it. 
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Your livestock sunshade shelter is a basic need. A cow can cope with moderate temperatures but not high temperatures such as in summer.

Studies show livestock shade increases the comfort and productivity of your cattle. How do we make our cattle get a reprieve from extreme heat? 

The livestock sun shade structure is a proven strategy that can reduce the impact of heat conditions on your cattle. In this article, we will walk you through the importance of cow shade structure and how you can design it. 

So let’s get started!

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What is a Cow Shade Structure

A livestock sun shade structure is either a  permanent or a portable structure with frames to provide shade for livestock. This is especially when your livestock is affected by heat from the sun.
Cow shade structures provide comfort for livestock in the pasture area. Shade reduces the heat load on your cattle. Shade does not affect air temperature but can reduce exposure to solar radiation and also enhance air movement for cooling. 

What are Your Objectives When Designing Your Livestock SunShade Structures

If you are designing a livestock sun shade structure, here are some of the  objectives: 

  • Provide adequate shade for each of your cows
  • Provide a durable structure
  • Minimize obstructions when cleaning 
  • Maximize airflow under the shade 
  • Design a structure that suits your geographical location

What to Consider When Designing Your Cowshed

If there is no longer adequate shade available in your pastures, it is important to use artificial shade structures. The cow shade structures come in many forms – permanent or portable. 

In many grazing areas, portable structures with shade – cloth tops are the most effective because: 

  • They can be moved from pasture to pasture providing the shade for a smaller investment than building a permanent structure in each pasture. 
  • They can reduce the negative impacts caused by many animal areas.
  • They can be positioned to help maximize pasture utilization. 

Spacing Your Shade Structure

If you have a mature cow, it needs 40 square feet of shade. Keep in mind that shade moves with the sun and the cows need access to adequate shade all day. If there is some shade, check whether the amount and distribution of the shade are an issue. 

If you have a rotational grazing system, ensure all your paddocks have adequate shade. If you have a continuous grazing system, ensure the shade is distributed, so that cattle utilize your entire pasture.

Location and Orientation

You should locate your cow shade structure:

  • On well-drained sites;
  • Not less than 60 Meters from water sources
  • At minimum 45 Meters from an up-gradient well.
  • At least 90 Meters from a slopy well
  • At least 15 Meters from any structure can block the circulation of air.

Also, position your livestock water and minerals to create a livestock-grazing pattern.

Lastly, let the long side of the cow shade structure face the North-South direction to keep the shaded area dry.

Cow Shade Material

The most commonly used cow shade material is 

Cow Shade Cloth 

The cow shade cloth is available in various densities and strengths. It is manufactured from lightweight knitted or woven polypropylene fabric. It provides

  • A good shade
  • Reflects heat
  • Diffuses light 
shade cloth
Shade Cloth

Knitted cow shade cloth is heavy duty with a longer life expectancy. Polypropylene woven cow shade cloth is cheaper, has a shorter life expectancy, and unravel if not taped. 

Woven livestock sun shade cloth may accumulate dust and become impermeable to rain. A tape border around the shade panel prevents the cow shade cloth from unraveling. 

You can use shade clips to attach cow shade without grommets to structures or wire supports. 

 Iron sheet 

If you decide on roofing iron you will need more support through the structure. However, it has the advantage of self-cleaning and provides increased rigidity in high wind, and has a longer life span than shade cloth. The iron sheet can also reflect solar radiation; silver or white coating on the surface can significantly reduce heat.

Cattle shade cloth is preferable to solid roofing material because the cow shade can block the sunlight while still allowing for airflow.

Height of Cow  Shade Structure

Higher structures will allow better ventilation but result in increased wind and costs.

Low shade cloth structures may

  •  Discourage cattle from entering an area at the minimum height. 
  • Reduce the cleaning machinery tearing cow shade cloth. 

Shade height also determines the shade area cast at varying times of the day

Operation and Maintenance

Your livestock sun shade structure can last for years. 

However, the cattle shade cloth of portable structures will degrade after a time (5 – 8) years degrade due to environmental conditions and need to be replaced. 

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If you want to extend the lifespan of your cattle shade cloth, store it during the winter months. The livestock sunshade should be kept tight to not be damaged by wind. 

Portable structures need to be moved after sometimes to prevent the destruction of vegetation.

The cattle shade cloth is used as the roof covering to allow air movement. It is recommended to use a cloth that reduces light by 80%. The cattle shade cloth is available in black and lighter colors to reflect more heat. If secured tightly to the frame, the cow shade can last about five years before replacement.

Tips for Designing Your Cow  Shade Structure

  1. Seek professional advice or hire contractors when you want to design your shade structures. 
  2. Use cow shade cloth with a
    • At least 80% solar rating 
    • Minimum 300 grams per square meter (GSM) 
    • Minimum  8-year warranty against UV degradation.
    • Black or green material 
  3. You should apply the right tension to the cow shade cloth to prevent damage during windy conditions. And monitor the tension regularly, especially during strong winds. 
  4. Go for a high pitch structure. It is better than a low pitch structure. It improves air movement, encourages dust/rainfall run-off, and enhances drying during sunlight periods. 
  5. Support posts used should be graded structural steel with the base encased in concrete to prevent corrosion and damage by pen cleaning machinery. Minimize the number of posts located in the pens.
  6.  Galvanised iron sheets reflect more solar radiation. 
  7. A minimum height of 5.0 m at the lower side of the shade should promote airflow and provide adequate clearance for pen cleaning machinery.


If you use EyouAgro cow shade cloth, it will protect your livestock against extreme heat stress, and bring you high yield.

Don’t hesitate to visit us at or drop us an email at if you have any questions on the cow shade.

Hey, I’m Kevin Lyu, the founder of , Family-run business
An expert of agriculture protection textile specialist .
In the past 26 years, we have helped 55 countries and 150+ Clients like farms, orchards , vineyards to protect their plants. The purpose of this article is to share with the knowledge related to agriculture growing protection for making the plant healthier and stronger.
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Kevin Lyu
Agrotextile Specialists

Hey, I’m the author of this post,
In the past 26 years, we have helped 55 countries and 150+ Clients like farms, orchards, and vineyards to protect their plants and crops. 
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call us for a free, no-obligation quote
or discuss your solution.

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