September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Doing corn silage better
Physically with shredlage, the kernels are basically demolished and the forage doesn't have smaller pieces of stalk that cows usually don't consume. It's longer cut corn measuring 26 to 30 millimeters with the stalk ripped length-wise into planks and strings.
There are three proven advantages of shredlage. The kernel processing is exceptional with a processing score greater than 70 because the machine rips and tears rather than trying to smash things apart.
There is an increase in physically effective NDF due to particle length. In the shaker box, around 35 percent of the particles are in the top screen. With conventional silage, only four to 12 percent is in the top screen.
"I used to get excited about having more than 10 percent on the top screen of the shaker box, but shredlage changed that," Olson said. "We have had many herds take out straw and hay and feeding a lot more shredlage."
NDF digestibility has also increased. Olson speculates it is because the rumen bacteria attach to the ends of the forage particle, and if there is a rip or tear those bacteria will tend to attach themselves to those spots. When the shredlage is properly shredded, it settles more easily into the rumen raft.
"My goal was to feed more and more corn silage because it is cheap and in return make less haylage," Olson said. "What do the cows think? That is what really matters."
In the studies conducted in the Midwest, farmers took out all straw and lowered haylage.
"There were no problems," Olson said. " Their performance and components were higher. Some would even say their herd health had improved."
In a study with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cows on shredlage tended to maintain 100 pounds of milk per day after eight weeks, while the conventional corn silage dropped to about 95 pounds per day. At the same time they consumed almost 1.5 pounds more dry matter per day with shredlage.
Olson has seen rations with all shredlage, but doesn't recommend anyone to practice that.
"You don't know what you are going to get with starch," Olson said. "There are no guarantees."
Shredlage is typically around 39 percent starch.
A common question Olson gets is about how does it packs in a bunker.
"In my opinion, it packs as good and probably better than conventional corn silage," Olson said.
Farmers should shoot for 65 to 67 percent moisture. They can work towards the low 60s but should not start there.
"Shredlage allows farmers to start a little drier and capture a little more starch," Olson said. "The key is not getting it too dry because NDF digestibility drops dramatically at 60 percent. You can go drier, but don't go too dry."
Allan Kutz of Kutz Dairy packed both conventional corn silage and shredlage in the same year. The conventional corn silage was 68 percent moisture, and he was able to pack 16.9 pounds per cubic foot. The shredlage was 61 percent moisture, and he was able to pack 20.4 pounds per cubic foot.
Schiebout sat down with five herds in Iowa using shredlage, and found their total savings per cow per day was $2.06.
Olson had worked with a few herds in Wisconsin and all had an increase in milk production and the components remained the same or were better. Their feed cost savings per cow were close to 61 cents.
"Midwest economics generally favor more use of shredlage," Schiebout said.