September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

The benefits of shredlage

Czechs, Paulson discuss impacts at Tour de Forage

By by Missy Mussman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

ROYALTON, Minn. - For Brent Czech and his father, Myron Czech, using shredlage is not a new concept.
"We have been working with shredlage for two years," Myron said.
Myron and Brent shared their experiences of working with shredlage in a discussion panel with extension educator, Jim Paulson, during the Tour de Forage meeting on Feb. 5 in Royalton, Minn.
Before switching to shredlage, the Czechs fed regular processed corn silage. In 2011, Myron purchased a new chopper with a sheer kernel processor.
"I bought it for a specific reason," Myron said. "I wanted to get more milk from the silage we had."
A year later, 38 shredlage choppers became available.
"We hadn't heard of this before. Someone had asked us if we would try it out," Myron said. "We did our research on it before we agreed and saw that those choppers rip the stalks and process the kernels better. It sounded good."
The Czechs decided to give it a try.
"The first year was a steep learning curve," Myron said.
They had done a trial chop for one of their neighbors and the particle sizes were 30 millimeters long.
"We realized the processor was not tightened enough," Myron said.
In their second year working with shredlage, the Czechs have learned more and have made improvements.
"The processor is tightened and we go a little slower," Myron said. "We have to watch and make sure it is produced the way we want it so we can get the most out of the corn we have."
Now most of the corn used for shredlage is chopped at 26 millimeters.
"Twenty six millimeters is a theoretical cut," Paulson said.
However, Paulson shared with producers that length might not always be a given.
"Take this with a grain of salt," Paulson said. "We are still learning."
Paulson said chopping the shredlage at a length of 30 to 31 millimeters could work if the corn is wetter and highly digestible. However, if the corn is dryer and courser, Paulson said farmers would see more separation when feeding it to the cows.
Brent agreed.
"Longer particle sizes can work," he said. "But if it is too dry and the particle sizes are longer, we have seen cows sort it more."
For Myron, particle size isn't the only thing farmers should be looking at.
"Farmers have to look at what kind of corn they have, the moisture and how much they plan on feeding," he said.
Paulson agreed.
"A lot will depend on those three things," Paulson said.
For the Czechs, the varieties of corn they plant is something they take seriously each year.
"Every year we reevaluate," Myron said. "We ask ourselves if we planted the right thing the year before."
The Czechs have used two brown midrib (BMR) corn varieties, a 112-day corn and a dryland corn.
"Each year we do our research and every year we still come back to BMR corn," Myron said. "The cows were producing five more pounds of milk when we fed BMR corn. But, everyone is different."
Paulson also sees the value of using BMR corn with shredlage.
"We have undervalued and under evaluated BMR corn," Paulson said. "Now with neutral detergent fiber-digestibility, it tells us a lot."
The Czechs feed their BMR shredlage to their dairy herd and dry cows while the heifers get the non-BMR shredlage.
Brent, who works more with the cows, has seen the benefits of implementing shredlage into the dairy rations.
"With hay being expensive, shredlage has allowed me to utilize more homegrown feeds," Brent said. "It helps stretch the forages when I can't feed as much silage. It works with both high silage diets and low to moderate silage diets."
Brent has also seen a change in the components of his cows' milk since switching to shredlage.
"I have had some good butter fat tests," Brent said. "Shredlage has been very good for our milk components."
He has also been impressed with the processing of the silage compared to corn silage.
"The length of the particles and the processing of the kernels is far superior from what I have seen," Brent said. "The silage is 36 to 38 percent dry matter and the kernels are pulverized perfectly. There is no corn in the manure. There are multiple benefits for us."
When it comes to packing the shredlage in a bunker most farmers would assume with the longer particle sizes, it might not pack as well as corn silage. For Brent that wasn't the case.
"I haven't noticed a difference in packing between conventional corn silage and shredlage," Brent said.
Paulson has seen similar results.
"We have seen that shredlage packed in the bunker just as good if not a little tighter than conventional corn silage," Paulson said. "The pieces are longer, but they lay flatter."
For farmers using shredlage in the diet, the best way to check if things are working is through the cows.
Brent said, "Watch the cows and see what they tell you."[[In-content Ad]]


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