ALFA SHADE RESOURCE HUB

 
 

The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) is proud to announce its initiative that encourages all Australian feedlots to make a pledge to provide cattle under their care with access to shade.

This initiative builds on the feedlot industry’s already strong commitment to animal welfare and positions our sector for long term sustainability.

Our Shade Hub provides all the tools and information you need to know about the benefits of shade. ALFA encourages all feedlots to consider the benefits that shade brings to the cattle they care for, their enterprise and collectively as an Industry.

quick links
Resources for Lot Feeders Implementing Shade
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UNLOCKING THE BENEFITS OF SHADE HANDBOOK

This handbook has been designed to assist lot feeders in implementing shade, and includes answers to some frequently asked questions, MLA R&D Updates on Animal Welfare and Productivity Benefits of Shade, followed by a Shade Design and Construction Manual.

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animal welfare benefits of shade

Livestock care is fundamental to the success and sustainability of every feedlot. Australia’s red meat customers and consumers, both domestically and overseas, seek reassurance that livestock are cared for humanely and ethically. A characterisation of what constitutes animal welfare is required before discussing the effect of shade on animal welfare.

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welfare benefits of providing shade

A fact sheet that explores what animal welfare means, the benefits of providing shade, and understanding the thermal regulation and shade seeking behaviours of cattle. Information in regards to cattle responses to shade, animal health and management strategies to optimise welfare with shade are also explored.

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productivity benefits of shade

Research conducted at the Brigalow Research Station, Theodore, Queensland concluded that providing shade to angus cattle at 3.3 m2/head resulted in an extra 6 kg of hot carcase weight.  This was driven by an extra 36 kg per head of dry matter intake over the feeding period, and lower maintenance energy requirements of shaded cattle. This fact sheet examines the effects of shade can have on feedlot cattle performance.

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shade design & construction manual

The Shade Design & Construction Manual provides Lot Feeders with useful information on the types of shade structures available, shade orientation and tips on how to maximise the positive impacts of shade.

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financing opportunities & due diligence

The Federal Government (and various State Governments) currently offer grants and loans for infrastructure development. To check your eligibility for these grants and loans see individual links below. Additional financing options will be explored in the upcoming webinar.

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shade manufacturers

The construction of feedlot shade is a relatively specialised field. Shade manufacturers support the design and construction of shade to ensure maximum effectiveness. The Shade Design & Construction Manual also provides useful information on shade installation. Commercial shade manufacturers operating in shade over livestock can be found below:

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unlocking the benefits of shade webinar 

A recording has been made available of the webinar delivered on 16th of November 2020  that introduces the ALFA Shade Policy and the resources available to assist in the installation of shade.

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RESEARCH - cattle behaviour & panting score

Lees, 2020, evaluates the influence of shade on feedlot cattle behaviour and panting score of Bos taurus and Bos indicus feedlot cattle during summer. All breeds and treatment groups within the research exhibited a notable increase in mean panting score as heat load increased.  Overall the results emphasise the importance of providing shade to feedlot cattle, irrespective of genotype, challenging the general perception that Bos indicus feedlot cattle do not require access to heat load alleviation strategies.

 
 
case studies

What is the ALFA Shade Policy?


ALFA supports that all cattle in feedlots have access to shade.




Why has ALFA developed a shade policy?


ALFA supports cattle in Australian feedlots having access to shade for the following reasons:

  • Shade enables feedlot operators to satisfy the five domains of animal welfare which includes cattle displaying natural behaviours and reducing the risk of discomfort through improved self-thermal regulation.
  • Shade is a tool that reduces the risk of cattle heatload.
  • Shade improves the feedlot industry’s resilience to climate variability.
  • The installation of shade in all Australian feedlots demonstrates our collective commitment to prioritising and continuously improving the welfare of cattle under our care.




What does the science say about shade in feedlots and the impact it has on cattle welfare?


Research[1] demonstrates that:

  • Shade lowers respiration rate, panting score and stress hormones in feedlot cattle.
  • Shade alleviates dehydration of cattle.
  • Both Bos taurus and Bos indicus cattle positively respond to shade.
  • Shade assists in alleviating mortality, fear, and distress during heat wave conditions.

[1] Meat & Livestock Australia, 2020. Animal Welfare Benefits Of Shade. MLA Research and Development update.




Are productivity gains expected from installing shade?


Research conducted at the Brigalow Research Station, Theodore, Queensland concluded that providing shade to cattle at 3.3 m2/head resulted in an extra 6 kg of hot carcase weight. This was driven by an extra 36 kg per head of dry matter intake over the feeding period. [1]

The implementation of shade can have positive effects on cattle welfare and productivity and hence can be a valuable driver of business growth and profitability.

[1] Gaughan, J. B., S. Bonner, I. Loxton, T. L. Mader, A. Lisle, and R. Lawrence. 2010. Effect of shade on body temperature and performance of feedlot steers. J. Anim. Sci. 88:4056–4067.




What financing options are available to feedlots implementing shade?


The Federal Government (and various State Governments) currently offer grants and loans for infrastructure development. To check your eligibility for these grants and loans, visit the following websites:

FARM INVESTMENT LOAN

Federal - Access more information here.

Maximum loan amount: $2 million.

The Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) is a loan suitable for businesses that solely or mainly sell products into supply chains that are interstate or outside Australia, or plan to in the future.

Eligibility for the loan includes:

  • Business is in financial need of a loan
  • Has the capacity to repay the loan
  • Is financially viable in the long term
  • Has existing commercial debt
  • Is in the agriculture, horticulture, pastoral, apiculture, or aquaculture industry
  • Is registered for tax purposes in Australia with an ABN and is registered for GST
  • Operates as a sole trader, trust, partnership or private company
  • Is not under external administration or bankruptcy

FARM INNOVATION FUND

New South Wales - Access more information here.

Maximum loan amount: $1 million

To be eligible for assistance you must demonstrate that:

  • You are the owner or operator of a farm business where the work is to be carried out
  • Your business operates as a sole trader, partnership, trust or private company and trades agricultural products
  • Your business is registered with the Australian Taxation Officer as a primary producer, and has an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • As the owner and operator, you earn more than 50% of your gross income from your primary production enterprise under normal seasonal circumstances; or
  • You are classified as a “new entrant”, meaning that you have been operating your farm business for between 12 months to three years and more than 50% of your gross income will be derived from the farm business within three years of the date of the application.
  • You do not have gross off farm assets exceeding $5,000,000 (excluding funds in a registered superannuation fund)

SUSTAINABILITY LOANS

Queensland - Access more information here.

Maximum loan amount: $1.3 million

To be eligible for a Sustainability Loan at least one person in your primary production business needs to be consider a primary producer.

Additionally, you are also required to:

  • Have operated your Queensland based primary production business for at least two years
  • Have sound prospects for commercial viability and the ability to service the loan in the long term
  • Should demonstrate the primary production business is not in a financial position to readily support the proposal from cash resources, or a ready capability to service increased commercial lending.

For purposes related to financial sustainability you are required to demonstrate:

  • concessional finance is needed to secure sound prospects for success in the long term; and
  • the proposal is not simply expanding an already financially sound primary production business, for example, by acquiring more land.

The QRIDA have defined a primary producer as a sole trader who spends the majority of their labour on, and derives the majority of their income from a primary production enterprise; or in relation to a partnership, proprietary company or trust that carries on a primary production enterprise, any partner in the partnership, shareholder in the company or trustee of the trust who spends the majority of their labour on, and derives the majority of their income from, the primary production enterprise.

INSTANT ASSET WRITE-OFF

Federal - Access more information here.

Eligibility for the write-off includes businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million, for assets up to $150,000.




Who does ALFA represent and why have they developed this policy?


The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) is the peak industry body representing Australian lot feeders. The body’s directly elected representatives to the ALFA Council collectively developed the ALFA Shade Policy on behalf of Australian lot feeders.




How will the shade policy affect me?


ALFA strongly encourages all unshaded facilities to investigate and install shade, ahead of the likelihood that the requirement for shade will be included under NFAS.

If your facility meets the recommended access to shade under the shade policy, there is no additional requirements for your facility to meet.




Are there local planning requirements I need to abide by for the installation of shade?


Local planning requirements vary on a state and local level. Please check with your local council to ensure that any new shade structures meet any planning approval requirements.




What standards do I need to follow for the installation of shade in my feedlot?


ALFA encourages shade to be installed across all feedlot pens, including entry, exit and hospital pens. To ensure consistency with the mitigation options within the Katestone, Risk Analysis Program, shade should be installed at a minimum rate of 1.5m2 per head of cattle and at minimum 70% UV protection.


The Beef cattle feedlots: design and construction manual can support feedlots in selecting a shade structure suitable to their production system.


The provision of shade in feedlots is also included in the Animal Health and Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the production of Cattle[1] which is referenced in NFAS and acknowledged in legislation in a number of Australian States.

[1] Animal Health Australia, 2016. Australian Animal Welfare Standards And Guidelines For Cattle. Turner ACT.




Do I need an engineer to help design my shade structure?


ALFA encourages all feedlot operators to review the Feedlot Design and Construction Manual: Shade and consult an engineer prior to installing shade. This will ensure maximum efficiency of your shade, productivity of your cattle and reduce the likelihood of microclimates occurring.




What happens if I do not install shade in my feedlot?


A feedlot operator’s decision to install shade is currently a commercial decision. ALFA is encouraging all feedlots to consider the benefits of shade to their enterprise and collectively as an Industry.

We understand the challenges that individual businesses may face in installing shade, hence ALFA would like to see shade in all feedlots by 2026 which allows sufficient planning and installation time. Whilst shade is not part of the NFAS currently and there is no penalty, ALFA sees this initiative as an opportunity to demonstrate our Industry’s leadership and commitment to animal welfare.




Will shade become a requirement of NFAS in the future?


The decision to make shade mandatory is the role of the Feedlot Industry Advisory Committee (FLIAC) who oversee the NFAS Standards. ALFA anticipates that the requirement for cattle in feedlots to have access to shade will be incorporated into the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) in the future.




I have Bos Indicus cattle in my feedlot that are tolerant to heat, what benefit will shade have in my feedlot?


Research[1] conducted in the US demonstrated significant productivity gains in Bos Indicus cattle when they were provided shade along with reduced mortalities in severe heat events.

[1] Barajas, R., B. Cervantes, J. Guerra-Liera, and A. Ramos-Suarez. 2018a. Influence of pen-shade area on feedlot performance of finishing bulls in a warm environment. J. Anim. Sci Vol. 96, Suppl. S3:15.




Do consumers think about animal welfare in relation to shade in feedlots?


Consumer testing[1] has showed that, when prompted with an image of an Australian feedlot, consumers believe access to shade is a basic requirement for livestock wellbeing.

Australia’s red meat customers and consumers, both domestically and overseas, are increasingly seeking out reassurance that livestock are cared for humanely and ethically. This initiative will help maintain trust in the Australian feedlot production system.

[1] Pollinate ‘Grain Fed Beef Website’ Research (May 2019)




My feedlot is located in a cooler climate with typically high rainfall, can I install retractable shade?


Yes. Retractable shade can support improved pen drying times for feedlots located in cooler climates that experience high rainfall.




What shade research is currently being undertaken?


ALFA has had a long-term interest in animal welfare research, and we continue to support grain fed levy investment through Meat & Livestock Australia in this area including projects to develop additional types of shade solutions for the feedlot industry.




How do I contact shade manufacturers?


The construction of feedlot shade is a relatively specialised field. Shade manufacturers can support the design of shade to ensure maximum effectiveness of your shade, productivity of your cattle and reduce microclimates occurring. Known shade manufacturers are listed below:





frequently asked questions