University of Illinois researchers recently discovered that feeding co-products and cornstalk residue in the winter can save cow-calf producers up to $1 per day per cow as compared to feeding hay.

Feed costs continue to be the No. 1 detriment to profitability in cow-calf operations. With feed comprising 60 percent of a producer's costs, any measures producers take to minimize expenses can make the difference between profit or no profit at the end of the year.

"Most feed costs occur in the winter when cows can't graze and utilize pasture," said Dan Shike, U of I assistant professor of animal sciences. "Typically cow-calf producers feed large round bales because they are easy, but that can be pretty expensive, especially when prices hit record highs like they did in 2008. Feeding harvested and stored feeds is a common practice, but it's also costly."

As ethanol production increases, so has the availability of corn co-products. Shike said more corn residue such as cornstalks are also being used as an energy source.

"Cornstalk bales are an adequate source of energy, but they are low in protein and need to be supplemented, especially when fed to cows in early and peak lactation," he said.