Weekly Newsletter

December 2021 vol. 2

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Winter Feeding
Though we’ve been blessed with quite a bit of fall rains and warm weather, the fewer hours of daylight are certainly effecting the rate of growth for the grasses. As a result, we’ve resorted to feeding hay (and pumpkins).  There are typically two schools of thought around feeding hay.  You can use a traditional hay ring which encircle the bales and allows the cows to stick their heads in and feed, or you can roll the bales out onto the pasture which the cows eat right off the ground.  Of course each method has advantages and disadvantages.  
Hay rings (or bale feeders) minimize the wasted hay – especially if they do not eat a full bale each day.  Like humans, cows want a cozy place to sleep, and a nice bed of hay is just the right spot.  Unfortunately, cows have a habit of pooping whenever they get up from their naps – resulting in fouled hay.  A bale feeder keeps the cows from sleeping on the hay and keeping it clean until its all gone. The downside of a bale feeder is that the cows crowd around it and, unless you frequently move it, the cows destroy the vegetation through trampling.  It takes several months for the area around a hay ring to respond to the intense compaction and heavy manure load.
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At Amber Oaks Ranch, we prefer to roll out the hay bales across the pasture.  Our cows go through a round bale just about every day so waste isn’t a major concern for me.  Besides, no grass is truly wasted – it goes to feeding the soil microbes.  Rolling out hay bales allows the cows to spread out and eat.  This ensures that even the smallest cow gets her fill.  It also reduces the chance of injury.  Cows jostling for hay could result in a miscarriage or other trauma. Spreading out the cows means your also spreading out the manure and urine.  Concentrated manure is a breeding ground for parasites, and it overloads the soil biome – effectively creating an anerobic environment.  Distributing the waste along with excess hay ensures the life under the soil also thrives.  Healthy soil results in healthy grass which means healthy animals.  
They have several types of tractor implements for rolling out hay and perhaps someday I’ll invest in one, but for now I use the forks on my tractor to push the bales downhill.  When I’ve gotten about half way, the forks become ineffective so I dismount and muscle it along.  On rare occasions, the cows think it’s a game and they join in - tossing the bale around like a beach ball.  Quite honestly, It gets a bit intimidating with 40 cows trying to get a bite to eat while you’re rolling out a bale of hay.  Fortunately, cows know better than to bite the hand that feeds them and I’ve come out unscathed.  
Shout out to some wonderful followers who donated pumpkins for the livestock to munch on. Head over to Facebook or Instagram to see video!

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20% off
Buy 10 lbs. of our grass-finished beef and get a 20% discount! You'll get 10 1 lb. packages - great for stocking up this winter. 

This Week's Markets

The Pflugerville Pfarmers Market has moved into it's Pfestive Market Season and will only be open twice a month for the rest of 2021. We will still be delivering preorders to the market location on days the market is closed and will continue to do so until the market reopens in 2022.
December 7th & 14th 
December 2nd, 16th, & 30th
Pflugerville First United Methodist Church (500 E. Pecan Street)

The Elgin Farmers Market is a year-round market that will remain open every Thursday. Pre-orders are encouraged. 

The Taylor Farmers Market is a year-round market that will is open every Saturday. Pre-orders are encouraged. Live music most Saturday's from 11 -1.
The market will be closed December 25th and January 1st. It will reopen and remain open every week starting January 8th, 2022. 

Be well, 

stay safe,


John & Molly