Mud fever is one of the most common equine health problems owners face in the UK. It is associated with wet conditions, when paddocks become muddy quagmires, and wet conditions are all too common in this country, especially in the winter months.
Like all equine diseases, PREVENTING mud fever is far better for your horse’s health and wellbeing – and your pocket – than having to cure it. And according to Horse & Hound, one of the key factors in preventing mud fever is bedding.
In an article on mud fever published just before Christmas 2017, bedding was the first bullet point in the list of ‘to do’s’ under the heading Preventing mud fever:
- Ensure bedding is clean, dry and non-irritant at all times
This is actually basic good advice for choosing the right bedding at all times and for all equine health and wellbeing reasons. But in the case of mud fever, it’s absolutely crucial both to help prevent this fungal infection in the first place, or to speed your horse’s recovery if infected.
Your choice of a clean, dry, non-irritant bedding becomes even more crucial when you consider the second bullet point in the Horse & Hound prevention list:
- Although many horse owners are loathe to keep their horse stabled, once infection is established it may be the only option.
This means that box rest is almost always required for a horse with mud fever, or if stabled in a yard where other horses have been infected by the dermatophilus congolensis agent that causes it. If your horse is confined to the stable 24/7 for several weeks, that clearly makes your choice of bedding even more important.
Mud fever infects the lower leg, usually the pastern and the heel, entering through tiny cracks or openings, and then multiplying in the warmth and moisture under the leg hair. The open sores it creates then offer other bacteria and spores an easy entry point, and the wrong bedding, or badly managed bedding, is an ideal breeding ground – a hotbed – for harmful strains of the most common bacteria such as E. Coli and E. Faecium.
For the effective treatment of mud fever and to prevent other equine health threats such as respiratory disease, you must provide a bedding that is as clean, hygienic, supportive and as free from airborne dust and spores as possible.
Those are all qualities that we have ‘designed into’ Bedmax shavings to help you keep your horses healthy and happy in their stables. But there is one other major benefit that Bedmax offers to help prevent diseases such as mud fever, and you won’t find this benefit in almost any other bedding.
We make our shavings predominantly from Scots Pine timber, because pine has unique antibacterial properties that help fight the bacteria that cause conditions like mud fever. That’s why disinfectant manufacturers put pine in products that ‘kill 99% of all known germs’, and why kitchen chopping boards are traditionally made from pine. That’s why grooms back in the old days of working horses used to sprinkle pine shavings and sawdust on the floors of their stables after they’d cleaned them out.
They knew then from tradition and experience that pine had natural antiseptic defences against harmful bacteria, and science has proved them absolutely right. In 2005, government scientists in the German forestry department tested pine against other softwoods including larch and spruce, and concluded that ‘only pine eradicates bacteria such as E. Coli and E. Faecium and prevents their regeneration’.
Most wood-based equine bedding is made from spruce or larch, which don’t have the antibacterial power of pine, and untreated straw tends to be full of bacteria, spores and dust.
So when your paddocks have turned into mudbaths, make sure you have the best defences down on your stable floor – clean, dry, supportive, cushioning, naturally antibacterial Bedmax shavings – and kick disease out of your horse’s stable.