Sheep farmers are now facing the prospect of lambing indoors with drastic reductions in their use of antibiotics. For many, this poses a big potential problem in preventing the loss of lambs to E. Coli infections like watery mouth and scour.
However, in recent years, growing numbers of farmers have reported to us that they are minimising their antibiotic use, and still saving more lambs, simply by using pine shavings in the lambing pens instead of straw. Stockmax pine shavings have been developed specifically to offer sheep farmers this naturally antibacterial and highly effective alternative solution.
Stockmax shavings are made from 100% Scots Pine, which scientific research studies undertaken in Scandinavia and Germany have shown is unique among softwoods in eradicating many strains of harmful bacteria including E. Coli and E. Faecium, and preventing their regeneration.
In a study commissioned by Bedmax but carried out independently at Nottingham Trent University in 2016, Dr Kelly Yarnell measured the survival of E. Coli in several different types of bedding. While E. Coli survived in significant quantities in straw, the E. Coli count found in pine shavings was below the minimum level of detection.
Another key study Bedmax commissioned early in 2018 trialled Stockmax pine shavings against straw in lambing pens at Harper Adams University. The results showed 18% more lambs survived on pine shavings than on straw over the first 48 hours of life.
Whatever part the antibacterial power of pine plays in this, the study also concluded that a bed of Stockmax low dust pine shavings was warmer and remained dry for longer, and contained less ammonia, which are also crucial factors in giving lambs the best start in life.
For sheep farmers, the best evidence that pine shavings work better in lambing pens comes from the farmers who are using Stockmax. Over the past few years, a growing number of sheep farmers all over the UK have tried it, and endorse Stockmax, because it works for them. And, in giving feedback after using Stockmax in his lambing pens, Aberdeenshire Vet and Sheep Farmer David Miskelly, 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.”
The major benefits reported from others who have used Stockmax is that it saves more lambs even and some have cut antibiotics out almost entirely. They report that the shavings last longer than straw, so they save on labour. And they report that even though Stockmax costs more than straw, the savings they make on antibiotic costs, bedding replacement, lamb losses and time means that these pine shavings are more cost effective than straw.