Introduction

Creating an ideal environment for your animals to thrive is one way to provide comfort and maximize profits from animal production. However, unfavorable weather conditions like hot weather can reduce your farm animal produce, resulting in a loss of investments. Interestingly, you can guide against this natural effect by using shade cloth for animals.

What is shade cloth? How will it benefit your animals? This article will answer these questions and further explore the different types of shade cloth and how to choose the suitable shade fabric. You will discover the truth every farmer and caregiver should know about animal shade fabric.

What Is Animal Shade Cloth

Animal shade cloth, sometimes called livestock shade cloth or cattle shade cloth, is a durable and breathable fabric made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), designed to provide shelter and protection to animals from the sun, heat, and other environmental elements. It is especially beneficial in hot climates or during the summer months when the sun’s rays can be intense and harmful.

The shade net helps to create a cooler and more comfortable environment for animals, allowing them to escape the heat and direct sunlight. It is a great tool that provides flexibility in the farm. It will provide several options and help you gain more control over your livestock and how they graze.

Why You Need Shade Cloth For Your Animals

Some people may doubt the importance of shade net from animals. You may find some content online that claims animals do not need shade. This idea is a myth that a later section of this article will debunk, but before then, you should know how much shade cloth can benefit your animals and even you. So, what is the purpose of shade net? Let’s find out!

1. Protect Animals From High Sun Intensity

As it is for humans, the blazing hot Sun on a scorching summer day is not friendly for animals. It is hazardous to them and can cause several health challenges.

Leaving your animals to graze under intense Sun can lead to skin burns, dehydration, eye problems, reduced feed intake, weight loss, and reduction in fertility.

Shade cloth will provide a comfortable environment that keeps them cool and reduces the health risks from high sun intensity.

2. Provide Protection Against Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

Harmful ultraviolet variation (UV) from the sun can affect animals’ health. Mostly, shade cloth can block a percentage of UV radiation as with sun rays. As a result, animals are less susceptible to the effects of harmful UV like sunburn, skin damage, skin cancer, eye damage, etc.

Ultraviolet radiation, an electromagnetic radiation the sun emits, is ever-present even when the sun is not scorching. Therefore, using shade cloth is always beneficial to provide a shield against it and make animal habitation more comfortable.

Animal Shade Cloth
Source: rush-co.com

3. Regulate Temperature

Shade cloth can help regulate temperature and further reduce the adverse effects of extreme temperatures in tropical areas or hot seasons.

At an ambient temperature of about 85°F (about 29°C), grazing pastures’ soil temperature can rise to 130°F( about 54°C), which may affect animals. Shielding your pasture from the sun’s rays with shade cloth can keep the soil temperature below 90°F (about 32°C).

As a result, livestock can take refuge under the provided shade, comfortably lying while chewing their cud and maintaining an average body temperature. Shade netting will also improve soil moisture and microbial population and boost the overall nutrients the animals gain when they feed on plants in the pasture.

4. Reduce Heat Stress

The temperature maintenance of shade mesh will help to reduce animals’ heat stress. Animals suffer from heat stress when their body temperature rises to a dangerous level, and it can lead to different health effects.

Heat stress can manifest in several ways in animals. Usually, it causes lethargy, heat exhaustion, weakness, dehydration, and excessive panting. It can also result in heat stroke, impaired reproductive function, immune system suppression, and increased mortality.

Thankfully, the right shade of cloth can save your pasture from all these plagues.

Other Benefits Of Using Shade Cloth For Animals

The primary purpose of shading net is to provide shade and protect animals from the Sun, but there are other benefits to using this tool on your farm. Below are other benefits of shade cloth for animals:

cattle shade cloth
Source: kerrcenter.com

1. Create More Space For Animals

Shade cloth provides more space for animals to run, hide, and play in the pasture. Animals are naturally attracted to any available shade in hot weather, even if it can barely offer shelter from the Sun.

Therefore, animals may become congested if there is not enough shade in a large pasture. However, using shade net will give them more options and ensure even space among them.

2. Wind Barrier And Protection Against Birds

Shade cloth can be an effective solution to protect animals from wind and its impacts. As an effective wind barrier, shade mesh can block or redirect airflow, reduce wind chills, minimize dust and debris, and regulate ventilation.

Additionally, shielding an outdoor space with a shade net can reduce the visibility of such areas to birds and protect the areas from bird droppings. Hence, it can indirectly protect them from birds.

3. Controlled Grazing

Another benefit of using shade fabric is that it lets you control where your livestock graze and manage their pasture effectively.

One way to control where livestock graze is by designating grazing zones, and it is valuable in a rotational grazing system. Livestock will naturally find their way to the shade cloth whenever the Sun intensifies, and it will ensure they graze specific sections of the pasture at a time.

A mobile shade netting is more suitable for this type of rotation, as you can move it to different sections of the pasture at will, and it will be beneficial in several ways. It will encourage livestock to spread out and graze evenly across several sections of the pasture, reducing soil erosion. It can also help in resting some parts of the pasture for rotation.

Lastly, it can help to distribute manure across the pasture and control forage regrowth.

Two Major Types Of Animal Shade Cloth

There are two different types of shade cloth: knitted shade cloth and woven shade cloth. Both types are suitable for sun protection, but their properties differ and may apply differently in usage. Let’s explore both to see their differences.

1. Knitted Shade Cloth

Knitted Shade Cloth

Knitted shade cloth is a porous, breathable fabric made by intertwining threads or tapes, like any knitted fabric, possessing a structure that allows airflow and prevents heat buildup, making it suitable for animals.

2. Woven Shade Cloth

Woven Shade Cloth

On the other hand, woven shade cloth is a tight fabric with a grid-like pattern. Its making process involves weaving individual threads over and under each other to produce a solid and stable fabric with larger holes, which may reduce airflow, unlike the knitted shade cloth.

3. Differences Between Knitted And Woven Shade Cloth

Both knitted and woven shade cloth differ in their making process, characteristics, applications, and benefits. Here’s a more comprehensive comparison of the two shade cloth types to help you understand which one applies better to animals and why.

  • Durability: Generally, knitted shade cloth is more durable and resistant to wear and tear when the animals graze near it. It is perfect and will last longer for outdoor applications due to its knitting process. Woven shade cloth may wear out faster. However, it will still serve for a reasonable period.
  • Shade Density or Percentage: You can get knitted shade netting of varying shading percentages, ranging from 30% to 90% shade. A high shade percentage implies high sun blockage and vice versa. Woven shade cloth usually offers more consistent shade percentages, ranging between 50% and 90%.
  • Applications: Knitted shade net may be perfect for livestock due to its durability, airflow, and average shade density., while woven shade net may be suitable for agricultural purposes. However, either of the two types may apply instead of the other.

How To Choose the Right Shade Cloth for Your Animals

Choosing the perfect shade cloth for your animals is essential for effectiveness, and below are some factors you should consider.

1. Consider the Animals’ Needs

Different categories of animals need different levels of sunlight and UV radiation. Therefore, the first factor in choosing a suitable sunshade net for your animal is the animal’s needs. The quantity of animals you want to shade also plays a vital role in your decision-making because an increased number of animals implies an increased shaded space.

2. Environmental Conditions

Your environmental condition will influence your choice of sun shade net. For instance, a shade cloth that prioritizes maximum shade percentage will be more suitable in areas that experience hot summers or harsh sun. Therefore, know your weather conditions and tailor your shade mesh choice to meet your animal needs.

3. Shade Percentage

Each type of shade cloth comes in varying shade percentages or densities. Therefore, you should determine how much shade your animals need based on the species of animal and your environmental condition. Then, choose a shade cloth with the corresponding shading percentage.

Low shade percentage ranges between 20% to 40%, average shade percentage ranges between 40% and 70%, while high shade percentage ranges from 70% to 95%.

4. Installation Of Shade Cloth

The installation process of your shade cloth matters because you don’t want to spend much time installing a complex shade fabric when a flexible and adjustable option fits more perfectly.

You may also consider a mobile shade net if you need to move the animals across different sections of the pasture. However, your choice should be strong enough to withstand wind and other climatic agents.

5. Maintenance Of Shade Cloth

Proper maintenance will influence your shade cloth’s longevity, effectiveness, and overall value. Hence, consider if a shade cloth is easy to maintain before choosing it.

You can check if it is easy to clean, resistant to mold and mildew, and has reinforced edges or replaceable parts.

6. Cost Of Shade Cloth

You should identify the various price ranges of shade cloths available in the market. Understand that the cost often correlates with the quality and durability of the material. Higher quality materials may be more expensive initially but can offer long-term cost savings due to their durability and effectiveness.

Recommended Shade Cloth Types For Common Animals

Some animals will likely thrive in a type of shade cloth than another. Therefore, the recommended shade net types suitable for different animal categories, including pets, livestock, zoo animals, reptiles, and amphibians are as follows:

Livestock Shade Cloth

1. For Pets: Knitted Shade Cloth

The comfort and safety of your pets are important to you. Therefore, you should choose a suitable shade cloth to create a conducive environment for them. This category includes animals like dogs, cats, etc.

Knitted shade fabric is suitable for pets because it effectively shields against high sun intensity and provides UV protection. Pets will be more comfortable with the level of ventilation knitted shade cloth offers, and its shade density is also perfect for maintaining an average temperature level.

Shade sails, another type of shade cloth usually made from knitted shade nets, are also suitable for Pets. Like the regular knitted shade nets, shade sails provide a comfortable pet play area and enhance the aesthetic appeal of an outdoor space.

2. For Livestock – Knitted Shade Cloth

You can use different shade cloth types for livestock – knitted, woven, and waterproof shade cloths to shade sails.

The most suitable option is knitted shade net due to its known features like various shade percentages, durability, UV protection, ventilation, etc. However, the perfect shading percentage of knitted shade nets for you will depend on your regional climatic conditions and other factors.

Here is a breakdown of the comfortable temperature zones for common livestock:

  • Beef cattle (British Breeds) 16-26°C (60-78°F)
  • Beef cattle (Tropical Breeds) 17-28°C (61-81°F
  • Dairy Cattle 6-21°C (42-69°F)
  • Goats 11-21°C (51-69°F)
  • Pigs 17-26°C (61-78°F)
  • Sheep 22-32°C (70-88°F)
  • Horses (Adult) = 6-25°C (42-77°F)
  • Horses (Foals) 16-22°C (61-71°F)

Woven shade cloth is also applicable for your livestock. You only need to pick a suitable shade density and maintain it more carefully for longevity. You can also use waterproof and breathable shade cloth or shade sails made from knitted shade cloth.

3. For Poultry Animals – Knitted Shade Cloth

You can use shade cloth in your poultry to prevent sun rays and improve habitation. Poultry birds are also sensitive to heat and sun exposure, but you can give them a more comfortable shelter using shade fabric.

Knitted shade net is the most suitable for poultry birds, but you can also consider breathable shade cloth and shade sails. The comfortable temperature zone for poultry birds, including chickens, hens, turkeys, etc., ranges between 10 – 24°C (50-68°F).

Revealing Myths About Animal Shade Cloth

It is no longer a question whether shade cloths are valuable to animals. However, some myths and misconceptions, especially on the internet, may mislead you if you do not recognize them as myths and misconceptions. Here are common myths you should not believe if you see or hear them.

Livestock Shade Net
Source: twitter.com

Myth 1: Animals Do Not Need Shade

The first myth that can harm your animals is to say animals do not need shade. Animals are like humans and should not be under intense sun for too long if humans cannot thrive under the same conditions. Keeping animals under hot sun can lead to sunburn, heat stress, exposure to harmful radiation, etc.

Myth 2: Animals Need Shade Cloths During Hot Weathers Only

Believing animals only need shade netting during hot weather is dangerous and can harm your animals. Though high sun intensity can cause sunburn faster, animals with light-colored and exposed skin can suffer the infection under cool temperatures with the sun shining.

Additionally, UV radiation is always present in the Sun, even when it is not intense or under cool weather. Therefore, shade cloths apply to animals both in hot and cool weather.

Myth 3: Any Level Of Shade Is Enough

It is a misconception to believe that any level of shade is enough for all kinds of animals. It is never true! The level of shading that is perfect for a species of animals can be harmful to others.

Some animals may also require partial shading, while others need higher coverage. Sun also changes position during the day, hence the intensity. Therefore, adequate early morning shade may soon become inadequate during midday when it is blazing hot.

Myth 4: Shade Cloths Are Too Expensive And Not Worth It

The misleading information that shading net are too expensive and not worth the investment can discourage you from providing the adequate shading your animals require. However, shade cloths offer some long-term benefits and cost-effectiveness.

Keeping your animals away from the Sun will prevent health issues caused by the sun, and you do not need to spend money on treating these diseases. It also improves animal productivity, which will yield more gains.

Maintaining And Caring Of Shade Cloth

The longevity of shade cloth is essential. Hence, you must maintain and care for it. Proper maintenance is also necessary to keep the shade cloth clean and provide a safe environment for the animals. Here are some ways to maintain and care for your shade cloth to provide a healthy habitation and improve the lifespan.

Shade Cloth for Livestock
Source: feedlots.com.au

1. Clean It Regularly

The most basic way to maintain your shade fabric is regular cleaning. Like in every tool, dust and debris can spoil your shade cloth after much accumulation. Accumulated dust and debris can reduce the shading ability of shade nets, yielding a reduced lifespan.

But you can prevent this damage by regularly cleaning it with a broom, leaf blower, or cloth. Also, clean off stains from your shade cloths using a soft brush with water. You may add mild soap to the water for effectiveness.

2. Mold And Mildew Prevention

You can prevent your shade cloth from mildew in damp environments by leaving them to dry before storing them. Rolling up a wet shade cloth will damage it eventually.

Additionally, you can gently clean off mold or mildew with water and a detergent solution to avoid further damage. Do not scrub affected areas hard to prevent premature wear and tear.

3. Proper Storage

It is essential to store your shade cloths properly after cleaning them. However, you should ensure it is dry before folding it up for storage. Failure to store it properly will expose it to damage from humans or any other agent.

4. Regular Inspection

Scheduling a regular inspection will also help keep your shade cloth in shape for a long time. It will help you to find any damage sooner, and you should fix it before it worsens. Regular inspection can be monthly, bi-monthly, or at your convenient time.

5. Repairing Your Shade Cloth

When your shade cloth starts getting old, wearing out becomes inevitable. However, you can repair some minor damages. You can repair little tears and small holes, fraying, stains, and mold in your shade cloth with the following tools:

  • Special shade cloth repair tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Soft brush.
  • Water and mild detergent.

Here are the steps to repair minor damages in shade cloths:

  1. Mold and Mild:Clean the shade cloth thoroughly with a mixture of mild soap and water. Apply the soapy water with the soft brush and scrub gently till the surface is clean. Rinse with clean water and leave it to dry.
  2. Small Holes and TearsCut a sizable repair tape enough to fill the torn areas. Measuring the area before cutting the tape may be helpful. Then, place the tape on the area and apply some pressure until it strengthens.
  3. Repair edges: You can repair fraying edges by trimming the edges out with scissors. However, you may need professional assistance for excessive damages that require specialized knowledge.

Conclusion

Having navigated through the essential aspects of animal shade cloths, it’s crystal clear that this tool is not just a luxury, but a necessity for the well-being of our animals. The right shade cloth not only ensures that animals are protected from harsh weather conditions, but also contributes to their overall health and productivity.

Deciding on the appropriate shade cloth involves a consideration of various factors, including the type of animal, the specific environmental conditions, and the particular needs of your animals. With the insights provided, debunking common myths about shade cloths has become simpler, and the path to making informed decisions is now well lit.

If the need for quality, reliable, and durable shade cloths is on your horizon, don’t hesitate to reach out to QiBang Netting. Your animals deserve the best, and we are committed to providing top-notch solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of every animal.