Farmers are warned to secure their bedding supplies ahead of winter, with producers reporting shortages of sawdust from suppliers.
Dairy farmer James Weaver from Rooms Farm, Market Drayton, said he enquired about receiving his supply of fine sawdust after placing an order earlier in the summer. However, he was told that the supply was tight and that delivery could not be guaranteed.
The shortage is thought to be on the back of an increased volume supplying biomass plants in Europe, with supplies dwindling over the last couple of years.
Mr Weaver, who milks 300 Holsteins and usually stocks up with two artic loads of bedding before the winter, said he rang various other suppliers and was told a similar message.
Commenting on the situation, he said: “Each of the companies said they were struggling to supply sawdust, and on top of that, the price had also increased significantly.”
To secure supply for his herd, Mr Weaver started considering alternative options.
“Trying to find a product that could guarantee dryness and security of supply was essential to us. We want to keep things consistent for our cows, and bedding is an important part.
“Without a dry bed for cows, bugs can soon spread, and we all know how much mastitis can cost and the knock-on impact it can have within a herd.”
After speaking with friends and researching alternative bedding options, Mr Weaver soon settled on replacing sawdust with paper bedding, EnviroBed Premium, from Envirosystems. The premium version combines EnviroBed with high-quality sawdust dried to 95% for high absorbency.
Mr Weaver added: “We are already customers of EnviroSystems and trust their products. We use their bedding conditioner Cobiotex instead of lime, which has helped us cut our mastitis from 20 cases per 100 cows to 6.
“We have had one artic load of EnviroBed Premium delivered and are happy we’ve got the security of supply as having no bedding would be a nightmare,” he said.
Liz Russell, Managing Director of EnviroSystems, said they had received increased calls and enquiries at recent events about EnviroBed on the back of the sawdust shortage.
She said: “We’ve had years like this in the past, and we invented EnviroBed in 2001 because of a shortage of bedding. Over the past two years, the bedding shortage has been building and has now come to a head.
“Every so often, bedding shortages happen, and we’re happy to be able to fill that gap for farmers when this happens.
“We encourage farmers to start thinking about their winter bedding supplies and, if they are struggling to secure supplies, to think of suitable alternative options.
She added: “When looking at alternatives, make sure you know exactly what you are buying and check aspects such as the dry matter and what is actually contained within the product.
“We pride ourselves on producing a dry product that has a neutral pH of 7.4, is soft on the skin, reducing the risk of teat irritation that can commonly be observed with strong alkaline bedding, such as lime-based products.
“The neutral pH means it can also be incorporated into slurry storage and AD systems,” she said.
Mrs Russell encourages farmers to secure supply now if they are interested in EnviroBed to guarantee supply over the winter.
She said: “To be on a winter contract where prices are frozen over the period and to secure supply before charges increase on 1 November, orders must be in by 20 October. We can deliver in artic loads, 56 bags on a pallet or in tall tote bags, so can accommodate a range of farming systems and those where storage or access may be tight,” she said.
Farmers can find out more about EnviroBed and read customer testimonials at www.envirosystems.co.uk or contact the team on 01772 860085.
Sally Russell, [email protected]; Sarah Alderton, [email protected], 07739969198