Every year Webster’s dictionary adds “new” words to it’s voluminous Merriam -Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. To gain entry into this prestigious book of knowledge, the meaning of these newly fabricated words need to have been stabilized in the English vernacular according to M-W’s Editor at Large. Last year’s new words included “tweet” and “bromance” to name a few!
In the dairy world, “shredlage” is a word that has only entered our farm vocabulary in the past few months. Or perhaps I should say Shredlage™, as it has already been trademarked. Shredlage is the word used to describe a new kind of corn silage produced when corn is harvested with a modified chopper. The modification replaces a now standard kernel processor with what might best be termed a shredder processor. According to literature available on their website, the modification produces a longer particle size by shredding the crop length wise and through the removal of some of the chopper knives. After field testing their machine for two years, the manufacturers of the device conducted a feeding trial comparing shredded to conventionally processed corn silage. In an article printed in Hay and Forage Grower, University of Wisconsin extension dairy nutritionist Randy Shaver reported that an increase in energy corrected milk was observed. He did go on to note that additional research is needed.
So is shredlage a genuinely new concept? A quick internet search finds that it is not. In a research project conducted at Penn State University during 2000 and 2001, researchers sought to develop a harvesting method that increased the digestibility of both the fibrous and grain portion of corn silage while increasing effective fiber. This was achieved by running material through corrugated rolls operating at differing speeds prior to being chopped, a process they referred to as shredding. In a subsequent feeding trial, they noted an increase in production of 2.6% when compared to chopped silage. They also saw an increase of 0.3% when compared to kernel processing.
More recently, researchers at Purdue University found that shredding corn stover required 40% less energy to harvest than chopping. While their research was aimed at processing the corn plant for the cellulosic ethanol market, there are some implications for shredded silage as a dairy feed. Specifically they note shredding corn stalks increases the surface area of the plant material. In theory this would support the assertion that shredding corn silage can increase fiber digestibility.
The technology, while it seems promising, is several years away from being available to the average dairyman. The shredding processor unit is only currently available for Claas forage harvesters and comes with a price tag of $29,200. Similar to kernel processing, it is a technology that will require a few more research trials, a reduction in price and a few brave souls to try it out on a field scale. Perhaps if you try out Shredlage™, you’ll tweet to us about it on our new VT Dairy Science Twitter account.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
July 3, 2012