Cooler Cattle Are More Productive

Whether your operation is beef or dairy, heat stress is a drag on productivity. When cattle are placed under heat load their body temperature and respiration rate increases. This leads to reduced feed intake resulting in lower milk and meat production.

Cooler Cattle are more productive - Tree Guard Protection - Ekidna Tree Guard
Figure 1. Cattle will utilise shade even when temperatures are in the low to mid 20s

Respiration rate can increase above only 21oC and the stress threshold when feed intake begins to decline is around 25oC [1]. When temperatures exceed 30 and 40oC milk production can reduce by as much as 40%.

There are many studies showing the impacts of heat stress on beef cattle as well. For example an 84-day study of beef cattle responses showed the following differences between cattle at 20.3°C versus 29.3°C.

Cooler Cattle are more productive - Tree Guard Protection - Ekidna Tree Guard
Table 1. Differences in key productivity indicators under higher temperatures. [2]

This is the impact at <30oC so we can start to understand the significant impact when temperatures are above 35oC. Figure 2 shows the different ways heat transfers in an animal without access to shade. Where the shade impacts is in the reduction of solar radiation.

Cooler Cattle are more productive - Tree Guard Protection - Ekidna Tree Guard
Figure 2. Modes of heat transfer for an animal outside without access to shade. Source: [3].

The European Bos Taurus breeds are more susceptible to heat stress than the tropical and subtropical Bos indicus breeds. A study of 164 Angus feedlot cattle in Queensland showed an additional 140 grams average daily weight gain of steers with shade versus those without shade [4].

Coat colour, body condition, local adaptation and health also vary the impact of heat stress [5].

Apart from the productivity implications, not providing cattle with adequate shade is a welfare issue. There is nothing worse than driving in your air-conditioned car on a hot day and seeing animals suffering in a paddock without shade.

With the affordability and speed of installation with Ekidna Tree Guards this issue is now easy to deal with. Your cattle will be happier, more comfortable and provide you with better returns.

Cooler Cattle are more productive - Tree Guard Protection - Ekidna Tree Guard
Figure 3. Ekidna cattle proof guards are a fast and inexpensive solution for establishing shade.


[1] Hahn, 1999. Dynamic responses of cattle to thermal heat loads. Journal of Animal Science, vol. 77, pp. 10-20

[2] Morrison, SR and Lofgreen, GP 1979. Beef cattle response to air temperature. Transactions of the ASAE. 22(4) pp. 861-862.

[3] Brown-Bandl, TM. 2018. Understanding heat stress in beef cattle. Brazilian Journal of Agricultural Science. 47: e20160414.

[4] Gaughan, GB., Bonner, S., Loxton, I., Mader, TL., Lisle, A. and Lawrence, R. 2010. Effect of shade on body temperature and performance of feedlot steers. Journal of Animal Science, vol. 88(12), pp. 4056-4067

[5] MLA, 2020. Heat stress. 9 Nov 2020.

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