Simple bird suet recipe

If you're anything like me then you can't stand to see the birds searching for food in the snow. I have several bird feeders and suet holders hanging from the trees in the woods and on my back porch. I make sure they're always full in the winter. I love seeing the wild birds. We have so many different varieties of birds out here and I try to feed them all.

It gets expensive.

Suet cake recipe for winter birds.

Especially if you want to put out food for several types of birds. Once type likes millet, another prefers sunflower seeds, the squirrels try to steal it all *sigh*. I started making my own suet blocks since finding ones that were good quality and affordable was becoming more difficult. The birds around here don't like to eat the cheap ones, believe me I have tried! 

I came up with a super simple recipe. These are about the easiest suet blocks you can make and you really only need 2 ingredients: seeds and fat. Oh, and you'll need a baking pan and a refrigerator if you want to speed things up. 

Even though this recipe starts out super simple, you can totally customize it! Add peanuts, dried fruit, oats or whatever kind of seed your local birds like. I whipped up a quick batch of suet cakes so I could take some pics for you. I had several types of seeds and some mealworms on hand so I used all of them, but whatever you have will work!

What is suet?


Suet is the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals. Plain suet is kind of hard to find around here so I use lard. Lard is any fat rendered from pigs and most stores carry it in little tubs. If you can find suet then feel free to use that, but many grocery stores don't carry it...so you'll probably need to use lard. Combined with bird seed, suet or lard makes an excellent winter food for wild birds!

Suet treats for birds


Prep: Line a baking pan with saran wrap to make it easier to remove the suet when it's finished. You can skip this step, but it will be more difficult to get out.

Ingredients

2 cups Seeds: scratch grains (sold as chicken scratch), black oil sunflower seeds, mixed wild bird seed, cracked corn, millet etc. 
1 cup lard, or you can use coconut oil or bacon grease during winter. 

I used two types of seeds. I used 1 cup of  scratch grains for the cracked corn content and 1 cup of regular wild bird seed. I added a little bit of mealworms for the protein content and because all the birds seem to love them. I had them on hand because my chickens love them.

I used the wild bird seed variety, but you can buy specific seeds if you have finches, woodpeckers or other types of local birds that you'd like to attract.

Seeds and fat mixture for suet cakes

Put the cup of lard in a bowl and microwave about 30 seconds. It should be thick but still liquid with a few unmelted lumps. Mix it to break up the clumps then dump the seed mixture in the bowl with the lard. Stir with a big spoon until well blended. 

Once the fat is mixed all through the seeds, scoop them into your lined baking pan. Tap down with the back of a spoon to make sure no air holes remain. If you want to add some nuts, seeds or dried fruit at this point you can sprinkle it on top. Just make sure you press it down with a spoon so it sticks!

The suet block will solidify if left on the counter, but you can put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to speed up the process.

 Make your own suet

Once solid just grab the edges of the saran wrap and pull the whole suet cake out of the pan. I then cut this large suet slab to fit my suet holders. Depending how wide the holders are, you might want to stack 2 homemade suet cakes to fill the holder completely.

After you remove a few suet blocks, you'll be left with odd shaped pieces. Wrap the saran wrap in onto itself and form the suet into a ball. Drop this ball into an old mesh produce bag and knot both ends before hanging outside.

Suet ball recipe for birds in winter

Modifying the suet cake recipe


You can add peanut butter to your suet cake mix. If I do this I offset the stickiness of the peanut butter by adding in some oats or cornmeal using a 1 to 2 ratio. EX: 1 Tbsp of peanut butter & 2 Tbsp of cornmeal. I don't often add peanut butter because it seems to attract squirrels, although woodpeckers do like it. 

You can leave out the mealworms or use peanuts or other nuts the local birds like. You can use only one type of seed if that's all you have on hand. You could even add in some oats, corn meal, dried fruit or wheat germ if you have it. If you add something dry like oats, cornmeal or wheat germ you'll want to add a little extra fat to help it all stick. 

As long as you have enough melted fat to stick it all together, pretty much anything goes. Well, except fresh foods like fruits or vegetables. Fresh stuff will cause the suet cakes to go rancid.

Keep in mind that since many household fats like coconut oil or bacon grease soften above room temperature, they are best used in winter. If you want to make a these in summer you'll need to use a fat like suet that remains solid at higher temperatures. 

I don't generally feed the birds in summer though, except hummingbirds but that's a different story!

Ask for lard in your grocery stores meat department. Some stores sell it freshly packaged just like meat and others have it in a plastic tub. 

Recipe: suet balls for birds in winter.

If you happen to raise chickens or ducks you'll want to position the feeders far away from where your poultry hangs out. Wild birds can transmit diseases like Exotic Newcastle disease, Avian Influenza, and Mycoplasmosis. These can be devastating to your flock! They can also have a variety of parasites like lice and mites. Unfortunately pet chickens can catch diseases from wild birds.

Trust me, you don't want to deal with all that so the best thing to do is to either position your homemade suet feeders far away from your chickens, or somewhere they can't get to. Putting them up on a porch, at the opposite end of your property, or even inside an enclosed garden will work to keep them separated.

This is actually one of my favorite winter projects. I love seeing the birds and fresh seed cakes have to be much better for them than the store bought ones with preservatives in them, right?

~L

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4 comments:

  1. That is great! I love birds but I don't know I could get this recipe hung this way for them. I will give it a hand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know how it goes. The birds here eat the homemade suet before the store bought stuff so i try to keep the feeder full all winter.

      Lisa

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  2. Alright, I tried it but the birds are finding it hart to come over to that location where the food is hung. It maybe because I am just starting new. Thanks for the interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe. Give them some time to find it and if they still don't come over you might want to pick a different location to hang it.

      Lisa

      Delete