Gamekeepers using pine shavings to help raise more game bird chicks without antibiotics.

Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) who promote the highest standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare in the British livestock industry began a campaign in 2016 to raise awareness and ensure that gamebird keepers, their vets and their feed companies use as little antibiotic as possible.

In May 2017, all 19 specialist gamebird veterinary practices in the UK supported best practice requirements for antibiotic use and prescribing. A number of individual vets have been working with their gamebird clients during 2017 to reduce antibiotics whilst always ensuring bird health and welfare are preserved. This important work continues.

As a result of this campaign, Stockmax are finding that more and more gamebird rearers, gamebird farmers and gamekeepers are looking for new approaches to tackling disease in their flocks and using Stockmax pine shavings in their bid to promote good health while at the same time reducing their use of antibiotics.

As the game-chick rearing season approaches, gamekeepers are increasingly using Stockmax pine shavings as part of their strategy to beat disease in their rearing pens.

Tim Smalley, MD of Stockmax parent company, Bedmax, has been promoting the benefits of pine shavings as a naturally healthy bedding for animals for 20 years. “The game industry is worth more than £1 billion and is dependent on the rearing of healthy birds with minimum losses.  We are finding that more and within the industry are using Stockmax because they have found that it plays an effective role in this process; it is hygienic, dry and clean, and the game chicks do not eat it.

“We started making Bedmax for horses in 2000, and we have always used pine timber to make our shavings because pine really does have unique antibacterial properties that helps beat disease in the stables.

“Stockmax is made from 100% pine, to maximise the health benefits in rearing very young animals and birds while minimising the need to use antibiotics. Pine has been traditionally used as nature’s antiseptic but there is now conclusive scientific proof that it really does kill most strains of harmful bacteria and fungi, so I’m delighted that Stockmax is giving game farmers and gamekeepers a really effective, and cost-effective, way to meet the antibiotic challenge.”

In terms of hygiene, Stockmax shavings are dried at sterilising temperatures during manufacture. They are made predominantly from pine, which has scientifically proven antibacterial properties. Both these factors help make Stockmax exceptionally hygienic.

When rearing chicks, a common issue is that bedding becomes wet and ‘mulches’, creating an ideal breeding ground for disease, and a key benefit of the larger Stockmax flakes and of the pine material is that the shavings drain moisture down from the surface and remain intact for far longer. This leads to the surface area remaining drier for longer – a crucial factor in the selection of bedding material for chick rearing.

Eliminating dust is another priority for chick rearing and Stockmax, which is purpose-made from UK sourced British pine timber, is rigorously screened to remove dust and small particles which can otherwise impair breathing, or in the case of gamebird chicks, appear to be an irresistible food.
Stockmax shavings are made from large flakes which create a deeper, more insulating and resilient bed, but crucially it makes them too large for chicks to ingest. This is a major factor in choosing Stockmax for chick rearing as significant losses can be incurred from chicks swallowing other bedding types.

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