If not Shredlage, then what?

Posted on July 18, 2013 in Dairy Performance
UrnessBy Jon Urness Shredlage™, Shredlage and more Shredlage.  When it comes to the latest technology in corn silage processing, Shredlage has dominated the headlines of the farm papers, been the focus of producer meetings, and become a hot topic among dairy producers and custom harvesters alike – and for good reason. This new approach to processing corn silage – which emphasizes not only the kernel portion of the corn silage, but also the stover portion – shows a lot of promise. A number of dairy producers all over the country are singing its praises.  Custom harvesters who recognize the potential value to their clients are taking a close look.  Others are a bit more cautious because of the added investment. In any case, not everyone is going to install a Shredlage processing unit on the chopper – nor should they.  Many systems have room for improvement and can accomplish their goals without spending money on new equipment. Improving kernel processing – a best brand? What factors influence the kernel processing score? Some operators will insist that the brand of equipment used will determine the result, but controlled studies are difficult to obtain and most information is simply anecdotal.  Work conducted by the University of California-Davis, with support from U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., would generally lead to the conclusion that the operator or human factor often has the greatest influence on kernel processing results. Details matter Chris Wacek-Driver, Vita Plus forage products manager, conducted a field survey of more than 30 custom harvesters last summer and learned the common denominators among harvesters consistently achieving high kernel processing scores were constant observation and measurement. “In this survey, the one practical piece of advice was to regularly roll out the processor and physically measure the actual roll gap with feeler gauges,” she said.  “The personnel that took the time to do this, rather than relying on the predicted reading on the cab screen, regularly recorded the highest kernel processing scores.” Wacek-Driver also noted, “While getting desired fiber particle size and optimal kernel processing is not an easy task, there are people out there obtaining both with current kernel processors regardless of brand.  These people know how to use existing technology and, perhaps more importantly, know the costs.  Better design, testing, processes and technology can get us there.  However, if we learned one thing from this field survey, it was this:  While new technology and innovation may help us move forward toward a targeted goal, it does not come without knowledge and management of that technology.” Practical tips Jason Brandt of J&A Forage Services, LLC in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania offers these tips as you look ahead to this year’s corn silage season:

  • Check the condition of the rolls.  Are the teeth sharp or worn?
  • Check the belts.  Are they in good shape or do they show signs of slippage or wear?
  • Check the processor springs.  Are they holding the rolls together properly?
  • Know the roll gap.  Measure at the rolls; don’t rely on what’s indicated in the cab.

Contact your Vita Plus consultant or dealer to discuss your corn silage plans for the 2013 harvest and evaluate your best options for putting up high quality forages. This article was originally written for the July 1, 2013 edition of Progressive Forage GrowerAbout the author:  Jon Urness is the Vita Plus national forage specialist.  He grew up on his family’s five-generation homestead dairy near Black Earth, Wis. and still lives there today.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism.  Since 1992, Urness has provided on-farm dairy nutrition consulting in southwest Wisconsin as a Vita Plus employee owner.  He has also taken on the forage marketing responsibilities outside of the traditional Vita Plus market.

Category: Dairy Performance
Forage harvesting