COON VALLEY, Wis. (WKBT) - One local farmer is beating the heat this summer with a unique contraption you won't find anywhere else in the world.
The Shade Haven started last year as an experiment in a barn outside Coon Valley. Now, Vince Hundt and his family have built more than 20 of the 3,000-pound mechanical monsters, and they're selling them to other farmers all over the world.
So, what exactly is a Shade Haven?
If you were to look at it, you'd maybe guess a satellite dish, or some sort of UFO. But Hundt compares it to one of countless old white oaks he has on his farm.
"This is a tree on wheels," he says.
The large umbrella-like contraption fans out and provides shade, and even a cool breeze, on the hottest summer days for cattle. Hundt is the man behind the monster creation that started out with a simple observation on a summer afternoon.
"Farmers and people that have pets notice when their pets are uncomfortable, and large graising animals don't like to be out in the noon sun," he said.
Hundt is a rotational grazing farmer. That means he moves his herds from one small - often treeless - pasture to another every single day. The process, he says, better maintains nutrients than if you were to leave a herd in a single large pasture for the entire summer. But it also leaves his animals without shade.
"The cows were really sufering, drooling, just miserable," he says.
That's where the Shade Haven comes in. Since he implemented it in his fields, Hundt says he's seen results.
"I've noticed more comfortable animals, I've noticed better rates of gain, I've noticed less stress. The animals are more comfortable, and I am too," he says. "We're getting a faster growing animal, and we're getting more of it."
From the first tree on wheels sprouted a whole new business, building Shade Havens for farmers across the country, and even the world. Hundt and his team have received interest from places as far away as Dubai.
"Every single farmer we've sold them to swears by it every day," says Lars Bergan, an employee at the company.
Running around $17,000 they aren't cheap - but the builders say it's worth it.
"Economically, it allows them to get more out of their investment in their land and their animals, but also in a humanitarian sense, it allows them to feel good about the life they're offering to their animals," says Bergan.
No matter what you might think it looks like, the Shade Haven is the first of its kind that could make a major impact in the future of farming. But the company may expand outside the industry - Hundt says he uses the contraption for family picnis and parties, and suggests it would be perfect for tailgating or in any situation where a large group of people need a break from the sun.
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