Part of our pasture and parasite management plans has us moving our sheep every one to three days. The challenge, though, is finding enough quality shade for all our animals to stay cool. The Icelandic breed is a hardy breed, but they don't handle these hot spring days very well. After a few hours of grazing in hot weather they start to pant heavily, so its important to make sure they have access to fresh cool water and adequate shade. Some of our pastures, though, only have a few trees, and not all those trees are in the small areas where we're grazing the sheep. So this year, we're trying out a new portable shade setup that will allow us to move shade to wherever the sheep are.
At a farm equipment auction in late winter we bought an old hay wagon for cheap as the basis for our portable shade unit. It was a multi-functional purchase since we'll now be able to use it to purchase larger loads of hay in the summer and fall. We first attached a dark green shade cloth that blocks out 85% of light to the upper braces of the wagon. Then, we attached the other side of the shade cloth to the fence on one side and stakes on the other. So now there are two 20X10 areas of shade on either side of the hay wagon casting enough shade for the whole flock to enjoy. And some of the smaller sheep are even finding shade under the wagon itself. I'm sure they're grateful for our creative problem solving.