For livestock farmers across the UK reviewing and reducing antibiotic use is a big priority. This is due to both practical and economic reasons. Like in humans, the overuse of antibiotics has led to a build-up of resistance. Coupled with the rising cost of inputs, farmers are looking at optimising efficiency and reducing expenditure where possible. This includes unnecessarily administering antibiotics or blanket covering batches of stock.
So, how does bedding play a part in this?
Using Stockmax shavings in lambing and calf pens can significantly contribute towards reducing antibiotic usage when combined with good management. Stockmax shavings are made using 100% pine sourced from sustainable UK forestry. Pine holds a unique capacity to eliminate harmful bacteria including E. Coli and E. faecium that pose a particular threat to animals during the earliest stages of their lives.
A study conducted by Dr. Kelly Yarnell of Nottingham Trent University measured the survival of E. Coli in several different types of bedding. The results showed that E. Coli survived in significant quantities in straw which is the most used bedding material on farms. The results for pine shavings showed the E. Coli level to be below the minimum level of detection.
Further studies carried out in 2018 trialled the use of Stockmax shavings against straw in lambing pens at Harper Adams University. The results showed an increase of 18% in lamb survival rate on pine shavings in comparison to straw during the first 48 hours of life.
In addition to its antibacterial properties, Stockmax has an abundance of qualities that contribute towards better health in youngstock. Dust is removed during manufacture through a vacuum which helps to prevent skin, respiratory and eye problems. The large flake size provides a secure and stable bed which protects joints and provides excellent insulation for newborn animals. Not only that, but it is designed to manage moisture by allowing urine to drain from the surface keeping the surface dry and reducing the risk ammonia poses.
Studies aside, the best evidence that pine is better in lambing and calf pens comes from the farmers who are using Stockmax. Aberdeenshire vet and sheep farmer, David Miskelly, said: “As part of the continued drive to encourage responsible use of antibiotics by sheep farmer, in particular blanket treating youngstock. We trialled Stockmax in our lambing pens 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.”
One of the major benefits noted by farmers is that it has the added benefit of saving on labour and is more time efficient. It last longer than straw, stays cleaner and requires less topping up. So, while Stockmax might cost more than straw, the savings made on antibiotic costs, bedding replacement, lamb or calf losses and time means that overall it is more cost effective than straw in the long run.
For more information on Stockmax, and to find your nearest stockist, visit: stockmaxshavings.com