With lambing time looming or already underway, Britain’s sheep farmers are facing a major new challenge to reduce their dependence on antibiotics at this critical time in the farming cycle.
Sheep farmers today rely on antibiotics to treat new-born lambs suffering from potentially fatal infections such as watery mouth and scour caused by harmful bacteria harboured predominantly in the bedding used in lambing pens. But with a demand for a drastic reduction in the use of antibiotics in agriculture, sheep farmers must find natural, non-pharmaceutical solutions to the health risks that can affect their stock and, ultimately, their profits.
A growing number of sheep farmers who have been using STOCKMAX pine shavings over the past five years have discovered that this purpose-made bedding appears to eliminate or dramatically reduce both the incidence of infection AND the need for antibiotics.
The scientific secret to this remarkable natural solution appears to lie in the pine timber used to make STOCKMAX shavings. Developed and produced by BEDMAX, the UK’s leading brand of equine bedding, STOCKMAX shavings are purpose-made from 100% Scots Pine timber, whose unique antibacterial properties have been scientifically proved to be as true in fact as they are in folklore. Pine really does contain natural defence mechanisms that eliminate a wide range of harmful bacteria and fungal spores, including the E.coli bacteria that cause the most serious infections in the lambing pen and E. Faecium, both of which thrive in the warmth and moisture of manure and urine in bedding.
BEDMAX has recently completed a £750,000 programme of research and production development to understand more about the remarkable natural health protection offered by pine shavings, and to improve their manufacturing process of enhance the benefits STOCKMAX offers.
This major investment is part of the company’s commitment to continuous improvement in understanding the problems their customers are facing, and in finding better solutions, explains Tim Smalley, Managing Director of BEDMAX:
“We started making BEDMAX shavings in 2000 to offer horse owners a dust free, completely natural bedding that would help them prevent or overcome the main health problems they face in keeping their horses in stables. The principal problem for horses in stables is airborne dust and spores, mostly generated by forage and bedding. But horses also face threats of bacterial and fungal infection that can seriously damage their health and wellbeing.
“The research we have discovered or commissioned over the past 16 years has shown that pine really does help combat many of these infections, and our experience with sheep farmers over the past five years or more has shown very clear evidence that it works as effectively for sheep and lambs in the lambing pen as it does for horses in the stable – or for any other animal kept inside on bedding, for that matter.”
Research is now proving that pine kills or suppresses many more strains of harmful bacteria that cause other common diseases and health problems.
“We are continually discovering more because science is evolving, and so are the problems facing our customers. For sheep farmers, or in fact all livestock farmers, the need to drastically reduce the use of antibiotics is a major new problem. We believe that STOCKMAX really can help solve this problem for farmers, and we will go on investing in research and development to understand the science that makes our shavings work for our customers, and improve our processes to make them work even more effectively.”