As fall and winter grazing become more common, Macksteel Warehouse, Inc., has found a niche fabricating portable windbreaks.
The Watertown, S.D., manufacturer began marketing portable windbreaks about 10 years ago, said Charlie Mack, general manager of Macksteel Warehouse, Inc. The company has distributors throughout the Northland.
As commodity prices soared from 2009-2013, farmers cleared out aged tree belts for more farmland. Since it is also common practice to winter cattle in crop residue – and grazing cover crops is gaining popularity – cattle needed some protection from the wind.
“While commodity prices have fallen from their highs, there remains a very strong demand for portable windbreak products,” said Mack.
The Macksteel windbreak panel attaches new galvanized 24-foot windbreak SuperSteel to a steel tube frame. This same steel is used in the construction of large buildings.
Each panel comes with two 12-foot long heavy pipe legs. These legs are removable, which allow approximately 45 units to stack and ship on one truckload.
“These legs will keep a single panel standing up in approximately 55 mph winds,” he said. “Combining multiple panels together, in a zigzag pattern, significantly increases their ability to stay standing in the wind.”
The cost for a kit is about $550, and a completely assembled panel is $625.
“Macksteel sells thousands of completed panels, but the sales of ‘kits’ is growing rapidly,” he said, adding that the kit contains all of the materials – down to the last screw – to build the panel. “We even include a print of how to do it if needed.”
The wind never stops blowing, and these panels help cattle use fewer calories while maintaining body conditioning. He added that the panels are not a good source of shade in the summer as currently designed but can be modified to create the Macksteel free-standing portable sun shade.
They are also used for human crowd control at concerts and other events, he said.
“Using steel creates the best value for the customer as it is a low cost, and lasts a very long time,” Mack concluded.