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Livestock Windbreak

Learn about livestock windbreaks, including primary Field Office Technical Guide practices, primary purposes, key design elements, and tree/shrub species requirements.


A windbreak or shelterbelt of closely spaced trees and/or shrubs planted perpendicular to the prevailing troublesome winds and adjacent to livestock areas. Areas are generally settings where livestock naturally concentrate or are confined such as a feedlot. The "wind shadow" created to the leeward side of this barrier achieves desired purposes. The windbreak may consist of one to many rows to insure adequate density of branches, stems and leaves.

Some Primary FOTG Practices for this System

  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment (380)
  • Mulching (484)
  • Access Control (472)
  • Fencing (382)
  • Irrigation System (441), Irrigation Water Management (449)

Primary Purposes

Reduce wind velocity to: 1) control energy loss and feed intake by livestock, and 2) reduce snow drifting in the livestock concentration area.

Key Design Elements

60-80% density barrier (year-round) with primary livestock areas within 5H of the barrier.

Tree/Shrub Species Requirements

  • Adapted to the soil and climate of the planting site.
  • Tolerance of nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations from manure.
  • Resistance to pests.
  • Some resistance to stem/branch breakage from high winds, ice, snow.