Shavings for sheep a popular alternative

Bedmax Shavings who are based in Belford, are finding a new customer base during lambing as farmers are finding that the qualities for developing comfortabl, hygeineic bedding for horses are just as appropriate for sheep and lambs.
Bedmax Shavings who are based in Belford, are finding a new customer base during lambing as farmers are finding that the qualities for developing comfortabl, hygeineic bedding for horses are just as appropriate for sheep and lambs.

With 15% of lambs in the UK dying within seven days of being born, hygiene is a top priority.

This spring, Belford-based Bedmax better known as a provider of bespoke bedding for horses, has a new group of customers – new born lambs. Farmers and shepherds are being won over by these high quality pine shavings which are clean, safe and antiseptic.

Originally designed to create optimum health for stabled horses, the properties of Bedmax Shavings are just as successful in the lambing pen with horse owners, and now farmers, quick to identify the science – and basic hygiene – behind it.

Outdoor lambs are at risk from exposure and predation, but indoor lambs are more at risk from poor hygiene and inadequate colostrum. This has highlighted the importance of clean lambing pens, with five percent of the lambs born in the UK dying from Watery Mouth every year. The condition is caused by the bacteria E. Coli, which is present in sheep’s faeces and builds up in lambing pens.

“In recent years a growing number of large scale sheep farmers in Scotland and the North of England have used Bedmax Shavings to improve lambing pen hygiene,” says Tim Smalley, managing director of Bedmax.

“One farmer who used straw and then transferred to using Bedmax found that almost instantaneously, using pine shavings in some pens considerably reduced E.coli infections and postnatal lambing death rate. Non-pine shavings were also tried, but he found that there were immediate problems with E.coli infections. When they changed back to BEDMAX pine shavings, almost overnight the E.coli infections disappeared.”

Pine has long been associated with antibacterial activity but now we are beginning to realise the benefits of certain plant chemicals (phytochemicals) in controlling some of the less welcome Gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus sp. and Gram-negatives like Escherichia coli.

As Tim explains: “The characteristic ‘clean’ smell of pine stems from an oleoresin secreted by these trees and it has been shown to be active against some bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa – all incredibly important in a lambing environment.”

BEDMAX are delighted at this new market, because they have worked hard to produce an effective product that is carefully engineered and biologically superior. The Scot’s pine they use is processed using state of the art technology to produce shavings that are dried to sterilising temperatures and screened in order to produce a high quality bedding, free of dust.

“Unlike straw, the pine shavings are not contaminated with fungi and the heat treatment provides additional ‘insurance’ against bacterial contaminants. Furthermore, the structure of the BEDMAX Shavings enables the creation of a deeper and better-aerated bed that is drier, easier to manage and therefore exceptionally comfortable for both the ewe and its lambs,” concludes Tim.