Ron Wussow harvested about 60,000 tons of silage corn last season using a Shredlage processor on his 2006 900 Claas Jaguar chopper. It cuts crop longitudinally and at longer lengths than would a traditional kernel processor.
To cover extra fuel and other costs, Wussow added $25/hour to the rate his Cecil, WI, custom harvesting business, called Milk-N-More, charges.
“The customer feedback that I’ve had so far is that they were all able to pull either hay or straw out of their cows’ diets. That’s more than offset that $25/hour increase,” he says.
Shredlage is the trademarked name of the processor, the plant material harvested from it and the company formed by nutritionists Ross Dale, Oskaloosa, IA, and Roger Olson, Baldwin, WI, along with manufacturer Bob Scherer of Scherer Design Engineering, Inc., Tea, SD.
Silage corn shredded with its rolls is less sortable and more digestible – with more physically effective fiber – than that harvested with a standard crop processor, Dale and Olson say. The length of cut with a standard processor is 19 mm; with Shredlage, the ideal length is 26 mm, they add.
The processor costs around $30,000. When Shredlage LLC first introduced it in 2011, the machinery only fit newer-model Claas choppers, says Jason Schiebout of Scherer. Scherer also manufactures traditional crop processors for Claas choppers.
By the end of the 2012 harvest season, 38 choppers with Shredlage processors, from New York to Washington State, had harvested 1 million tons of shredded corn silage, says Schiebout.
Cole Olson of Diversified Farms, Alma, WI, ran 35,000-40,000 tons of his customers’ silage corn through a Shredlage processor on his 2011 960 Claas with a 20-knife drum. “We had mixed feedback from different customers. Some were all for it and want it next year and some didn’t,” he says.
His customers also paid extra to cover additional costs, he adds.
Shredlage LLC recommends that custom operators charge $1.50-2/ton.“That’s going to be tough, especially in Wisconsin, where most everyone charges by the acre or by the hour,” Schiebout admits. “I have some custom operators, not in Wisconsin, who are getting $2/ton above and beyond their standard processed corn silage costs.”
The Shredlage processor, compared to a standard unit, vibrated more, Cole Olson says. “And we did have some driveline components fail. That does need to be addressed. Who is responsible for that? The manufacturer of the chopper or (the manufacturer of) the processor?”
He also saw reduced torque on the chopper. “With the different configuration, your cutterhead isn’t doing all the work. Your processor is doing more of it.”
Wussow estimates he used 2 gallons more fuel per hour but, because the crop ran through evenly, he felt it didn’t take more time to harvest.
He always checked to make sure kernels were being processed when using a standard crop processor, he adds. “I didn’t feel the need to change settings from farm to farm and field to field like we have in the past. I was a lot more at ease last year through harvest working with this processor.”
Both custom operators saw some roll wear. “But we’re used to putting new rolls in every year anyway, with the volume we’re trying to pump through with one unit. It’s an expected cost on our part,” Wussow says.
Schiebout agrees that there was more roll wear with the Shredlage processor. “You do not get as many tons through it and that was one of the reasons for bringing in all 38 processors this year. We’re going through them and making recommendations for each. We’re probably seeing roll replacement on one roll at 40,000-50,000 tons and then maybe both rolls at 60,000-70,000 tons.”
Bringing in the processors between harvest seasons also allowed the manufacturer to address any weak points in the Shredlage system, Schiebout says.
“Most of the machines (the Shredlage processor was put into) had 24-knife drums that will let you cut up to 22 mm. But the Shredlage guys said that was not long enough, so we pulled out every other knife and went down to 12 knives. We found that that did not work.
“There were slugs feeding into these machines, and we were getting too much vibration – too much movement – in the processors’ spring systems and the rolls. We were breaking frames and casts,” Schiebout says.
A different spring system was put in and, on the 494 Claas Jaguar system, a 20-knife drum, he says. For older Claas choppers – the 491, 492 and 493 – a half-knife drum is available at local dealerships that “works really well.” Speed-roll differential and frame strength were also increased.
Today, the High-Performance Shredlage processor fits 2008-2011 Claas Jaguar 494 Series choppers. In 2012, Claas came out with a different crop processor, so a High-Performance Modified Shredlage model was developed to fit all 2012 and newer Claas machines.
“We were getting a lot of demand from people who owned different models (of forage harvesters),” adds Schiebout. So the company came up with Loren Cut rolls to fit stock processor frames of the Krone Big X, New Holland’s FR Series and John Deere’s 7000 Series and newer harvesters. “The setup and modification of the machines are all dependent on the dealer or machine owner.”
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Sunnyside, WA, custom harvester Phil Kuiken, of Kuiken Farms, ran a Shredlage processor last season for customers using his 494 Series Claas 980. But Kuiken harvested the crop as corn silage at a 22-mm length of cut. “Going for the long cut takes more horsepower, more fuel, and it slows you down. I didn’t want to jump on the wagon that quickly, “ he says.
But Kuiken was impressed with the way the unit processed 80,000 tons of corn last season. “It is taking the hard stalk from below, shredding it and getting the air out of it. It is put in pits at better quality and cows can utilize the stalks. I am seeing a better product.”
He says that, since switching to the Shredlage processor, he is seeing 50% less gas come off silage pits and estimates there will be “a lot less shrinkage. It is packing tighter. The pits ferment cooler, not hotter.”
Silage to be bagged moved more evenly into the bags, Kuiken believes.
The only issue was with the six-groove belt system that kept slipping. Once a seven-groove belt was put in, that stopped, Kuiken says.
For more on Shredlage, read: