With Australian farmers and growers being able to provide 93% of the country’s domestic food requirements, while still exporting over 60% of their products, one would think everything in the agricultural garden was rosy.
The reality is not at all as encouraging. Although agriculture and ancillary businesses account for over 10% GDP, many family-owned farms have been sold off, while others try to generate income from the increasing tourist industry. With this in mind, ensuring both dairy and beef herds are maintained in prime condition should be every farmer’s main aim to maximise return on investment.
Excessive Heat Load in Cattle
One pressing problem that farmers face is excessive heat load. Once the air temperature reaches 26C, cows and cattle begin the feel the effects. As it increases, or remains at high levels for a prolonged period of time, the animal begins to suffer. In extreme situations, death can occur. Without some form of shade for the animals to get out of direct sunlight, not only will the animal suffer, but milk yield and body weight will drop, and conception and calving reduce, resulting in less income for the already struggling farmer.
Mature trees provide natural shade for animals, but that’s a long term solution, and many don’t have 20 years to wait for them to mature. Wooden posts and shade cloth can provide a cheap cover for the animals to gather under. This provides a quick short term solution which will have to be regularly repaired or renewed.
Using Dome Shelters
With careful planning, a dome shelter can provide a number of benefits for both farmer and animals. Reflecting over 50% of the sun’s rays, the canopy will provide much needed shade. The shelter can be used as a pre-milking area, or even converted to become a full milking parlour. The adaptable dome shelter is available in stock sizes, or can be designed to individual requirements. They can be constructed to cover 20 or 40 foot containers, ideal for equipment, animal medications, or food stuff storage. They can be built from the ground up as well. Sprinkler systems to assist with animal cooling can be included, as can lighting systems.
EHL is not something beef and dairy herds might be affected by once in every 10 years. With Australia’s average summer temperature reaching 30C, EHL is an annual occurrence which, unless properly managed, will see a significant drop in production of both beef and dairy products, with the resultant loss of income. Farmers and stockmen are increasingly turning to a quality dome shelter across Australia to provide effective shading, where climate change is having a significant effect on temperatures.
Excessive heat load, CoolCows.com.au
MLA R&D examines heat load impacts, Meat & Livestock Australia