As sheep farmers prepare for the upcoming lambing season, more and more are turning to pine shavings as an effective alternative to straw, which continues to command exceptionally high prices this winter.
Pine is also a proven option to prevent health problems, and at a lower price than straw, it is a sensible solution to promote good health and reduce costs.
“A successful lambing season is critical for sheep farmers’ profitability and a major focus at this time is animal health – which will determine flock performance,” says Tim Smalley, Managing Director of BEDMAX.
“Therefore, we need to address the challenges that are prevalent at lambing time. The E. coli bacteria and E. Faecium are the most widespread and serious health threats. Both thrive in the warmth and moisture of manure and urine in bedding,” explains Tim. “So, this is an area that needs to be seriously considered. Pine contains natural defense mechanisms that eliminate not only these dominant bacteria, but also a wide range of other harmful bacteria and fungal spores, making it an incredible material for animal bedding.”
Aberdeenshire Vet and Sheep Farmer David Miskelly, has recently used STOCKMAX Pine Shavings in his lambing pens and giving feedback, he said:
“As part of the continued drive to encourage responsible use of antibiotics by sheep farmers and, in particular, the blanket treatment of lambs for watery mouth, we trialled Stockmax shavings in our lambing pens this year and did not administer a single prophylactic watery mouth treatment to any of the lambs born as singles. We have been delighted with the results and Stockmax shavings have been a great hit as it delivers a dry, fresh, hygienic bed in the lambing pens, at a comparable cost to straw.”
Tom Darling, who farms at Ladyflat Farm, near Duns, in the Borders, converted from straw to STOCKMAX last year for his flock of 25 pedigree Suffolk, 25 pedigree Charollais and 220 commercial ewes.
“Obviously there is the financial aspect of using straw, but we are also looking at the additional benefits of using STOCKMAX.
“Firstly, the cleanliness and dryness of the STOCKMAX – that is definitely a huge benefit we are seeing over straw. This has led to a noticeable labour saving as we are not having to change pens as regularly.
“Also, we value the antiseptic qualities with the pine. Particularly at lambing time, and especially if an ewe has had a caesarean, keeping them clean and dry is critical.
“The lambs also seem to enjoy the beds and are immediately comfortable – with straw they would often scrape through the straw and lay on the bare concrete – so that is obviously an improvement.
“I have seen immediate benefits with pine shavings and, by monitoring animal health issues, I am now keen to see the long-term savings over coming years.”
Tim Smalley adds, “The industry, and the Government, are committed to reducing the use of antibiotics on farm. Preventative methods of animal health management are key to achieving this goal, and so farmers need to look at proven, cost effective options that will reduce their flock health issues. STOCKMAX shavings are made from pine and scientific research has proved that E. coli is one of the bacteria that pine kills completely. So, by using pine bedding, sheep farmers are investing in good preventative care, which should also be reflected in time savings and lower health costs at lambing time – making this very demanding time, less stressful and more profitable.
“Reports from farms using STOCKMAX are showing a reduction or elimination of E.Coli infections, watery mouth and scour, a reduction in the loss of lambs, lower use of antibiotics, better hoof health and an overall improvement in the health and condition of ewes.
“The benefits are becoming commonly known, and more and more farmers are switching to pine shavings as a highly effective, completely natural, cost effective alternative to straw. It is also fully traceable, British made and very sustainable, making it a good environmental choice too.