If you work in the Australian beef feedlot industry, or the wider livestock industry you have more than likely heard of the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) shade policy.
But what exactly is it? And how will it impact Australian feedlots?
We thought this would be a timely and topical discussion because there is a growing expectation on livestock producers including lot feeders to provide shade and shelter for their livestock.
This has been driven by a number of different groups such as animal rights activists and animal welfare advocates.
And consumers are much more conscious of the impact their choices make – including the food they eat and the clothes they wear.
PETA and similar groups have also promoted dangerous and misleading misinformation about the industry. For example, campaigning for a live export ban despite Australia being a world leader in animal welfare practices.
As a result, industry bodies have recognised the importance of prioritising animal welfare and taking proactive action to counteract misinformation.
These are crucial steps in ensuring the longevity of the livestock industry in Australia, and more broadly agriculture in general.
This is one of the reasons why the ALFA developed a shade policy: “The installation of shade in all Australian feedlots demonstrates our collective commitment to prioritising and continuously improving the welfare of cattle under our care.”
So, what is the ALFA shade policy? And what do you need to know about it?
Read on to learn about what it is and what it involves.
Who Are ALFA?
ALFA is the Australian Lot Feeders Association, the peak industry body that represents Australian lot feeders.
What Is The ALFA Shade Policy?
“ALFA supports that all cattle in feedlots have access to shade” and “encourages all unshaded facilities to investigate and install shade.”
While shade is currently a commercial decision for feedlots rather than an industry requirement, it is expected to be included under the NFAS (National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme) in the future.
In the meantime, ALFA is also “encouraging all feedlots to consider the benefits of shade to their enterprise and collectively as an Industry.”
This is also “an opportunity to demonstrate our Industry’s leadership and commitment to animal welfare.”
Learn more about the shade policy in the video below. And access the ALFA Shade Hub, here.
Is Installing Shade Mandatory? Is There A Deadline For Installing Shade?
Shade is not currently included in the NFAS standards (which are the responsibility of the Feedlot Industry Advisory Committee) and there is no penalty in place.
However, ALFA expects shade to be included in the NFAS in the future.
With that in mind, ALFA would like to see shade in all feedlots by 2026. This would allow sufficient planning and installation time.
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 heat load
- 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 Standards Do I Need To Follow? What Is Best Practice?
ALFA recommends installing shade over all feedlot pens. This includes entry, exit and hospital pens.
They also suggest that shade should be installed at a minimum rate of 1.5m² per head of cattle and at minimum of 70% UV protection.
There are more suggestions and best practice design recommendations in the resources below.
Here is a collection of case studies, research and information to help you on your shade journey.
- Animal Welfare Benefits Of Providing Shade (Fact Sheet)
- Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines For Cattle
- Benefits Of Shade Clear At Jalna Feedlot (Case Study)
- Cattle Behaviour & Panting Score (Research)
- Do Cattle Need Shade?
- Feedlot Cover Guide (Download)
- How Much Does It Cost To Cover Cattle Yards? (Price Guide)
- MLA Feedlot Design Manual (Download)
- Productivity Benefits Of Shade (Research)
Shade Project Ideas
Looking for ideas and inspiration? Browse our gallery of completed feedlot cover projects, projects under construction and design features.
We hope this overview of the ALFA shade policy has been helpful! And that the resources and ideas are a starting point for your shade project.
Here are some other articles that you might find useful:
- How Much Does It Cost To Build A Grain Shed?
- How Much Does It Cost To Build A Hay Shed?
- What Are The Fire Design Requirements For Farm Sheds?
- What Is Low-Stress Livestock Handling?
- What Is The Best Roof Pitch For Farm Sheds?
- What Is The Lead Time For A New Shed?