Wind Shelter

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers
Knowledge Nuggets
  • Cold and high winds decrease cattle production due to stress. Wind chill can have a more serious effect than extreme cold. At -18oC, a 22 km/hr wind will make it feel like -34oC.
  • Wind increases heat loss and increases the amount of feed required by cattle for maintenance and gain. Livestock are less efficient at converting feed to energy under prolonged exposure to cold. By using wind protection, you can reduce these losses by up to 50%.
  • Permanent fences, portable fences and shelterbelts can be used to protect loafing, watering and feeding sites.
  • The use of portable windbreak fences allows you to winter livestock on any field with an adequate water or snow source, and control the distribution of nutrients around the field with each move.
  • The most effective windbreak fences are 20% porous and allow some wind to filter through to reduce a downside vacuum. This provides better downwind protection than a solid fence of the same height. Openings greater than 10 inches or boards greater than 10 inches wide are not recommended.
  • A 75-80% density windbreak that is 8 feet high decreases the wind velocity by 15% on the downwind side for 32 feet (4H) and 25% at 80 feet (10H), with some wind protection as far as 12 times the fence height downwind.
  • The amount of hay hauling may be reduced as windbreaks and livestock can be moved to parcels of land adjacent to, or directly on to, hay fields where the bales can be fed as needed.
  • Fall and winter grazing practices such as stockpiling perennial forage, swath grazing and crop residue grazing can be used on open parcels of land that do not have natural shelter.
  • Producers can winter livestock away from riparian areas that have excellent natural shelter, but are environmentally sensitive.
  • Livestock can be wintered on the same site for the entire winter season. In spring, the portable windbreaks can be moved, allowing unhindered access for manure removal equipment.
  • Portable windbreaks can be moved when snow accumulates, eliminating the need for snow removal.
  • On calving grounds, disease build-up can be reduced when the location of the site is moved on a regular basis.
  • Shelterbelts are natural windbreaks that are very effective at protecting cattle as well.
Fact Sheets

Portable Windbreak Fences

Portable Windbreak Fencing

Wind and Snow Fences

Windbreak Fences

Windbreaks for Cattle

Windbreaks for Cattle: Canada Plan Service

Windbreaks Provide Shelter for Cattle

Research Papers

Cattle Use of Microclimates on a Northern Latitude Winter Range

Effect of Protection against Wind according to the Variation Porosity of Wind Fence

Influence of Winter Weather and Shelter on Activity Patterns of Beef Cows

Responses to Short-Term Exposure to Simulated Rain and Wind by Dairy Cattle: Time Budgets, Shelter Use, Body Temperature and Feed Intake

Snow Management and Windbreaks

Some Effects of Fluctuating Low Ambient Temperatures on Beef Cattle

Windbreaks for Livestock Operations

Wind-chill Effects for Cattle and Sheep
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Janet Fletcher.
This information published to the web on September 11, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 29, 2016.

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