Olson and Scherer: Machinery Application of Shredlage
Roger Olson of Shredlage, LLC has extensive experience in nutrition consulting with dairy herds. According to Olson, anytime something was going wrong with a farm’s nutrition program, he observed “cigarette butts” in the manure. That is, he noticed the round, blunt chunks associated with conventional corn silage.
A few years ago, he visited with a Missouri dairyman who was taking a different approach to harvesting corn silage. This dairyman was ripping or shredding the stalk instead of chopping it. That started turning the wheels in Olson’s head.
He went home and talked with his dad, a mechanically savvy man, about the idea. His dad built a prototype and the concept of Shredlage™ began.
Olson knew he didn’t have the capabilities to mass produce Shredlage processors, so he called up Bob Scherer of Scherer Corrugating & Machine Inc. about being a partner in the project. Scherer was very interested and jumped in on the project that same season. The team began looking at new ways to increase corn silage and fiber in the ration.
“It’s all about the cow and the rumen,” Olson said.
The goal of Shredlage is to increase the physically affective fiber content of forage while also increasing fiber digestibility. As a result, producers should be able to limit straw and alfalfa hay and increase corn silage.
Olson has a theory as to why Shredlage works. When digesting forages, bacteria act where the plant’s cuticle, or outer layer, is broken. Olson said he believes shredding may break the cuticle in more places and thus allows for more bacterial activity.
Olson said one of the other benefits of Shredlage is that it can be put up at a slightly lower moisture level, allowing for a bigger harvesting window. That said, he does not recommend dropping below 60 percent moisture. For high corn silage diets, Olson said 63 or 64 percent moisture is best.
Olson said one of the common concerns of Shredlage is sorting. However, he has not seen any sorting issues when the length of cut is at 30 mm or less. He said sorting does occur at 40 or 50 mm.
Based on his initial experiences in bringing Shredlage technology to farms, Olson offered the following harvest recommendations:
- Aim for 65 to 67 percent moisture
- Harvest at least at the half-milk line
- Sequence the fields based on the milk line
- Make sure the shredder is set properly. Note that brown mid-rib (BMR) corn silage may need another 0.5 mm closer than conventional silage because it has a more “rubbery” texture.
Scherer, who focuses his energy on the mechanics of the Shredlage processor, reminded custom harvesters to make sure they set up their shredders correctly. If they have a break down, he said they should call immediately for customer support in fixing the issues as quickly as possible. This level of customer service is a source of pride and a cornerstone of Shredlage, LLC’s philosophy as it looks toward future success.