A nice glass of wine.
You get the picture?
We all enjoy treats from time to time. Granted, you probably shouldn’t feed any of these foods to your chickens. But there are plenty of healthy foods you can give your birds that will not only keep them entertained, but will also provide them with a ton of nutrients.
One of my favorite chicken treats to make a homemade suet cake. I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with all of the lard we had leftover after butchering our pigs.
Here’s everything you need to know in order to get started.
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What is Suet?
Essentially just seed cakes, suet is a coke product that you can purchase or make for pet or wild birds. They usually contain a mixture of seeds, grains, and fruits, all held together with some kind of fat.
Suet is a great way to improve the diet of your chickens as well as to provide them with a source of entertainment. Made correctly, suet can help recycle unwanted household ingredients and cut down on your feed bills – especially in the winter.
Why Should You Make Your Own Suet Cakes for Chicken?
Suet cakes are not only easy to make, but they offer a nice way to recycle some of your unwanted homestead ingredients. They are also a great source of healthy fats for your birds. This is especially beneficial if you are raising chickens in a cold environment – like during the winter. Suet cakes are high in calories, so you won’t need to worry about your birds getting too cold.
Oh, and did I mention that your chickens will absolutely love them?
Easy Suet Cake Recipe
Suet is incredibly easy to make. I usually make up a big batch in the fall, when our pigs have just been butchered, but you could really make these at any time throughout the year.
Some people recommend refrigerating or freezing them to keep them, but I find that if I store them outside during the winter months I don’t have any problem with spoilage – even when our temperatures yo-yo.
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1.5 parts lard, tallow, or other meat drippings
- 1 part sunflower seeds
- 1 part chicken scratch
Some people also add dried fruit or other ingredients to your suet cakes – you are welcome to do this. The only reason I don’t is because I don’t tend to have a lot on hand.
I’ve also used a big bag of bird seed instead of the scratch and sunflower seed combo – this can save some money and take some of the hassle out of making suet, too.
To make your suet, begin by lining a loaf pan (I pick up the large aluminium disposable pans at the grocery store because I can feed the chickens directly out of it without ruining a good pan). You could also use a loaf pan lined with parchment paper if you prefer.
Or, if you have a large flock, putting your suet in muffin tins might make sense. This will allow you to pop out individual blocks that can be fed to each chicken so that you can reduce the amount of competition among your girls. Everybody will get a piece!
Begin by heating up your lard, tallow, or fat so that it is in a liquid form. If you don’t know how to render your own lard, be sure to check out the instructions here.
Pour your dry ingredients into the pan. Next, you will cover your dry ingredients with the liquid fat. You should combine everything with a fork to make sure the fat is evenly distributed and that there are no air bubbles.
Let the cake harden completely either at room temperature or by placing it in the refrigerator. You can then pop the cake out of the pan and feed it directly to your chickens, or you can hang it from your coop to give them a fun toy. Like I said, it also holds up well in storage.
Instead of the ingredients I listed above, you can also use the following ingredients in your suet cakes. Just remember to maintain the ratios of fat, grain, and seeds that I listed above.
Here are some options:
- Coconut Oil
- Bacon grease (essentially lard, I know, but…)
- Unsalted peanuts
- Dry peas
- Flax seeds
- Wheat berries
- Peanut butter
- Fresh herbs (oregano, garlic, thyme, mint, and sage are good options)
If you’re feeling adventurous, know that you can use just about any kind of grain or seed mixed with a natural fat. I’ve even heard of people using peanut butter as the fat.
That’s all there is to it! Hopefully you can make up a big batch of suet cakes to be fed to your chickens all winter long. They’ll go nuts for them!
Have you made suet cakes before? What are your favorite recipes?Make sure you let me know in the comments!
Want to learn more about raising chickens? Be sure to check out these articles!
- How to Butcher Chickens
- How to Keep Predators Away From Your Chicken
- The Best Egg-Laying Chicken Breeds
- The Ultimate Guide to the New Hampshire Chicken Breed
- How You Can Make Money Raising Chicken
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