A traditional market for Miscanthus internationally is as bedding for livestock, particularly for horses. MNZ has entered into a joint-venture agreement with a machinery owner to produce top-quality bedding for racehorses. The initial trials in 2013 at Waikato Stud and Ballymore Stables were extremely well received. The stable owners understood that because the Miscanthus did not need turning or replacing for 8 to 12 weeks, the savings in labour are considerable.
Further demonstration trials are underway at other horse establishments so that they can see for themselves the commercial benefits of using Miscanthus.
Production of this bedding is proceeding but studs or stables that want to be supplied in the next twelve months will need to confirm their orders quickly. There is a limited supply of harvested feedstock material right now and it is unlikely to be increasing significantly until 2016. However about 10 tonnes per month of top quality bedding is being produced and this will probably be expanded to 15 tonnes per month when a review is carried out in a few months’ time.
MNZ anticipates that with the expansion of dairy cows being housed off the paddock and in sheds for at least part of the time, the demand for bedding in general will be increasing. Miscanthus has shown itself internationally to be considerably better than any alternatives in this use. In addition there has been recent information coming from the UK that shows that when dairy cows are housed on Miscanthus bedding, the incidence of mastitis is significantly reduced. MNZ is investigating the reason for this in case further use can be made of this characteristic of the crop.