Shredlage: What we’ve learned (Dr. Randy Shaver & Dr. Larry Chase)

Posted on February 24, 2015 in Forage Foundations

Click here to download Shaver’s PowerPoint presentation.  Click here to download Chase’s PowerPoint presentation.

With Dr. Randy Shaver, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Larry Chase, Cornell University
Shredlage® is becoming popular, yet many questions still surround the logistics of this harvesting strategy.

Dr. Randy Shaver, University of Wisconsin-Madison Dairy Science Department, shared results of his most recent feeding trials at the Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting.

According to Shaver, Shredlage is a silage produced from the whole corn plant that has been harvested with a longer-than-usual theoretical length of cut.

“Traditionally processed corn silage has a cut of about three-fourths inch, whereas Shredlage is about 1 and a quarter inches, which results in a greater proportion of coarse particles in the silage,” Shaver said.

Most recently, Shaver collected data from 69 different farms across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois from April to June 2014.

Of the 76 samples:

  • 46 Claas SPFH with Shredlage processor
  • 5 Loren Cut® rolls
  • 72 bunkers or piles
  • 4 silo bags
  • 58 farms used silage inoculant

The farms that were sampled averaged 840 milking cows, producing 87 pounds per day.

This study found that the percentage of forage and corn silage in diet dry matter largely remained the same.

Dr. Larry Chase, Cornell University Department of Animal Science, agreed with Shaver’s thoughts on Shredlage and continued the discussion by sharing his research as well.

In 2011, Chase had a few initial thoughts on the concept of Shredlage.

“If the only thing Shredlage does is let us decrease the amount of dry hay or chopped straw in dairy rations, that alone would be worth significant dollars to a dairy producer,” Chase hypothesized.  He continued, “If we can also improve fiber and starch digestibility in the cow, that would add to the value of Shredlage.”

Chase shared insight he gained in a Cornell University Shredlage study. The study showed no significant differences in dry matter intake, milk production, milk composition or feed efficiency.

What does Shredlage mean to a nutritionist? Chase shared several points:

  • A greater amount of rumen available/fermentable starch from corn silage
  • The ability to run total starch level in diets at a lower level
  • Ability to decrease the need for non-nutritional effective fiber sources, like straw

Chase concluded with a few take-home concepts for custom harvesters:

  • Shredlage appears to offer the potential to improve fiber and starch digestibility in corn silage.
  • A key concern is knowing how to monitor the harvester settings during harvest and who is responsible for doing it.
  • Even though milk production responses are mixed, it does seem to offer opportunities to lower ration cost.
  • Additional information is needed on the particle size guidelines.
  • As with many new technologies, Shredlage will find its place in the next few years.

Category: Feed quality and nutrition
Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting
Milk production and components