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B.FLT.4013 - Evaluation of the benefits of shade for feedlot cattle in a temperate climatic region

Provision of shade in a Western Australian feedlot resulted in a trend for 0.13 kilogram per day increase in average daily gain during the months of October to May.

Project start date: 01 June 2020
Project end date: 01 February 2024
Publication date: 20 February 2024
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Grain-fed Cattle
Relevant regions: Western Australia
Download Report (1.7 MB)


This experiment, conducted under commercial conditions, used black Angus cattle in a 100-day grainfed program at a feedlot classified as being in a temperate climatic zone.

There were six groups of cattle inducted into the feedlot over two summers (2021/22 and 2022/23) with 80 cattle shaded and 80 cattle unshaded from each group to test the impact that the provision of shade had to production and welfare indices. Parameters assessed, in a total of 960 black Angus steers, included feed intake, weight gain, rumen temperature, drinking, overall health, and behavior. The data collected aimed to provide insights into the impact of shade on the welfare, health, and performance of black Angus cattle feedlot cattle during a typical Western Australian (WA) summer under commercial conditions.


1. Subcontract a commercial shade provider to install a solution with a feedlot collaborator in Western Australia.
2. Subcontract a feedlot collaborator to execute a defined research methodology in consultation with the research organisation.
3. Execute research methodology to evaluate the shade

Key findings

Over the months of October through to May under which this experiment was conducted, the findings demonstrated production increases with the provision of shade with a modest increase in average daily gain (ADG) of 0.13kg/day.
- Using this ADG benefit in a sensitivity analysis model, the shade capital cost payback period could range from about two to 10 years given variable shade capital costs and $/kg hot carcase weight (HCW).
- The early turn-off of cattle and increased productivity is supportive of improved emissions intensity and offers potential marketing advantages.
- The physiological markers of health (rumen temperature and blood analysis) revealed that, even during the hottest times of the experiment, the cattle were quite able to thermoregulate to maintain physiological homeostasis. The thermoregulatory measures we observed that aided this were the increased heat loss via increased panting and seeking shade (if available) to reduce solar radiation load.
- In addition, we were also able to show the effect of heat stress and shade provision on the affective state of the cattle. Qualitative behavioural assessment was used to indicate that the shaded cattle in the ‘moderate stress’ THI category displayed the most positive demeanour, being described as more ‘settled and sociable’ compared to the unshaded cattle.

Benefits to industry

This research project provides an objective dataset for lot feeders to assess the value of shade in temperate climatic environments.

MLA action

MLA has presented the results of this project to the 2023 Western Australian Lot Feeders Association conference, and the 2023 MLA Feedlot Research Symposium to industry consulting veterinarians and nutritionists.

Future research

MLA is currently investing in further evaluation of covered housing systems in both southern and northern climatic environments.

More information

Project manager: Joe McMeniman
Contact email: