For sheep farmers, reducing the loss of lambs to E. Coli infections like watery mouth and scour, whilst minimising the use of antibiotics is a priority. Stockmax pine shavings offer a naturally antibacterial and highly effective alternative bedding solution, and the BETA NOPS Bedding badge certifies that it conforms to the current best practice in minimising the risk of contamination by naturally occurring substances which can be harmful to livestock.

BETA NOPS accreditation is an international industry standard of practice that audits and approves a manufacturer’s production and management processes, and also requires they make no claims for their products in promotion or advertising that are not clear, accurate and substantiated, so that customers can have full confidence when buying.

Straw bedding traditionally used in lambing pens is a common source of contamination by pathogens and naturally occurring harmful substances, and damp conditions are ideal for bacterial reproduction. In recent years, farmers have recognised the need to look at new ways of effectively managing disease spread and reducing antibiotic use to increase efficiency and profitability. The switch from straw to Stockmax pine shavings in lambing pens has helped a growing number of farmers do just that.

Stockmax is made using 100% Scots Pine timber, which has natural antibacterial properties. Scientific research studies undertaken in Scandinavia and Germany have shown Scots Pine is unique among softwoods in eradicating many strains of harmful bacteria including E. Coli and E. Faecium and preventing their regeneration.

The shavings are also dried at sterilising temperatures to eliminate the presence of unwanted bacteria and spores. Minimising external sources of contaminants in turn reduces the challenge on the immune system and keeps lambs healthier overall.

South West Farmer:

For Tim Smalley, Managing Director at Bedmax which produces Stockmax, NOPS accreditation is a milestone in the bedding company’s 21-year commitment to excellence.  “Producing a bedding product for farmers that is going to help them reduce disease, and also reduce antibiotic use, has been a priority since we began Stockmax production.

“Unlike feeds and supplements, you don’t get a list of ingredients on a bag of bedding or a bale of straw, so it’s important to know that the manufacturer has taken steps to ensure the product does not contain harmful substances.

“There is also a growing focus on producing food in a more sustainable way, and biosecurity plays a key role in this. Pine is naturally antibacterial and so is extremely hygienic, helping farmers to keep their lambing pens as clean as possible and producing healthier lambs.”

Bedmax has carried out years of intensive research into the antibacterial power of pine which has highlighted just how successful it is at fighting E. Coli. In 2016 an independent study commissioned by Bedmax and conducted by Dr Kelly Yarnell at Nottingham Trent University found that, while E. Coli survived in significant quantities in straw, it remained below the minimum level of detection in pine shavings.

Another key study commissioned by Bedmax in 2018  involved the comparison of straw and pine shavings in lambing pens at Harper Adams University. The results showed a substantial 18% more lambs survived on pine shavings than on straw over the first 48 hours of life.

For sheep farmers, the best evidence that pine shavings work better in lambing pens comes from those at the coal face who are using Stockmax. Over the past few years, a growing number of sheep farmers all over the UK have made the switch and endorse Stockmax because it works for them.

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 with some even cutting out antibiotics almost entirely. They report that the shavings last longer than straw so save on labour, and that despite Stockmax costing more than straw to buy, the savings they make on antibiotic costs, bedding replacement, lamb losses, and time, means that they are overall more cost effective than straw.

For more information on Stockmax, or to find your nearest stockist, visit: