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New silage processing method improves digestibility

Published on 20 May 2016

A NEW maize silage technique that intensively processes both the kernel and long chopped corn stalk particles significantly improves digestibility and livestock performance.

SHREDLAGE was developed over the past decade by two U.S. dairy nutritionists, Roger Olsen and Ross Dale, who recognised the need to develop a more efficient silage process suitable for high ratio forage diets. The technology is now marketed globally by CLAAS for use in its industry-leading range of JAGUAR forage harvesters.

The CLAAS SHREDLAGE processor incorporates two specially-designed LOREN CUT rollers, which feature 110 and 145 teeth in opposing spiral grooves and set on a 50 percent speed differential. CLAAS VMAX V20 and V24 chopping cylinders are used to produce a chop length of 26 to 30 mm, about 10 mm longer than conventional silage. The rollers break the kernels to about one quarter or one eighth of their normal size, simultaneously ripping the long chop stalks into planks and strings and removing rind from the larger parts of the stem.

The process significantly improves the availability and digestibility of starch and fibre by exposing the inner cells of the kernels, stalks and leaves to microbial activity in the rumen. Studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin in Madison have shown the process achieves small but significant improvements in dry matter intake, digestibility and milk production. 

CLAAS Greenline Group Product Manager, Luke Wheeler, says SHREDLAGE will allow contractors to meet rising demand for longer chop lengths without compromising silage quality. “The challenge facing all dairy farmers is how to increase milk production efficiency,” he says. “SHREDLAGE has already been widely adopted in the USA and Europe and we have no doubt it will become popular as producers focus on more intensive feeding systems.Combined with the service and support provided by the CLAAS Harvest Centre network throughout Australia, SHREDLAGE will allow contractors to provide an even better silage for livestock producers.”

Lallemand Animal Nutrition, a leading provider of silage management services, inoculants and sealing systems in Australia, has played a key role in its local adoption. The company’s Technical Services Manager – Forage, David Lewis, says SHREDLAGE is a significant advancement in kernel processing of corn silages. “The beneficial effects of long chop silage on rumen function and health are well known,” he says. “The flip side is that until now, it’s been difficult to achieve the level of compaction and consistency required for optimal fermentation when trying to chop corn silage at these longer lengths. This means silage can be a trade-off between what the nutritionist and dairy producer would like and what the silage contractor can actually produce according to the field and crop conditions. SHREDLAGE will help bridge that gap by producing a high quality, highly processed long chop silage that packs as well as normal silage when harvested within the recommended parameters for making quality corn silage. 

David says SHREDLAGE is produced the same way as short and long cut silage. “A bit more attention is required to achieve the desired stack densities, such as being prepared to run a second pack tractor when needed, but other than that, it’s similar to making any other silage,” he says. “Regardless of the type of silage being made, new technology by itself will never replace good management. The objective is to produce a high quality and consistent forage – and ultimately, this comes down to achieving a high quality fermentation.”

Some of the key parameters include correct machine set-up; the ongoing monitoring of dry matter content, chop length, kernel processing, particle size and stack density; the use of scientifically-proven inoculants and sealing systems; face management and correct feeding. 

David says SHREDLAGE will have obvious appeal to dairy farmers who are feeding corn silage in total and partial mixed rations. Every herd can benefit from improved processing of both the kernel and fibre, but obviously this technology will have greatest appeal to those implementing more intensive livestock production systems,” he says. “The physical make-up and consistency of total and partial mixed rations are very important in terms of their effect on animal health and production. SHREDLAGE is different to short chop silage in that it has a longer fibre lengths or termed effective fibre going in to the rumen. It can have up to four times the amount of longer effective fibre, which can possibly reduce the amount of straw, hay or other fibre sources that has to be provided in balancing the diet. Likewise, it is different to previous long chopped silage in that both the plant stem and the kernel are highly processed.” 

The CLAAS MCC SHREDLAGE processor complements the existing CLAAS MCC Max, Large and Medium crackers, which are used to process shorter chop lengths from four to 22 mm. The modular design of the four models means processor units can be changed quickly, allowing operators a high degree of flexibility.

SHREDLAGE at a glance

  • 26–30 mm length of cut (LOC)
    63–68% moisture content (32–37% DM)
    No whole corn kernels
    Kernel starch development greater than 1/2 milk line
    Fermented Kernel Processing Score >70

The CLAAS SHREDLAGE unit incorporates the MCC cracker and LOREN CUT shredder, whose sawtooth rollers and opposing spiral grooves rip long chop particles longitudinally.

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