Don't throw away the grease leftover from cooking burgers, steaks, meatloaf or bacon! You can use it to make homemade suet blocks for your chickens or the wild birds. They will love it and during the winter, they really can use the energy that the fat provides.
Ingredients and equipment:
- Grease/fat (i.e. from cooking meatloaf, burgers, steak or bacon)
- Unsalted nuts
- Cayenne pepper
- Heat/freezer safe container
- Suet cage
Chop some assorted nuts (peanuts are especially nutritious and a good source of unsaturated fat). Be sure to use only UNsalted nuts. Arrange them in your freezer safe dish and then sprinkle some raisins on top along with a healthy shake of cayenne pepper. The cayenne helps to heat the body naturally and also stimulates the hens' circulatory system. This is extremely beneficial during the cold winter months.
When you cook meat, save and drain your grease. (Use bacon fat sparingly since it does contain salt and nitrates that should be avoided for the most part.) Let the grease cool just a bit and then pour carefully over the nut mixture.
Stir to blend and then put the dish into the freezer. You can continue to add 'layers' to your container each time you have leftover grease, adding more nuts, raisins and cayenne as needed. You can also add other dried fruits or seeds.
I store the suet in the freezer until winter and then start doling it out on cold days. Since I don't render the fat or process it in any way, it will go rancid if left out, so when you do 'serve' your suet, only serve small amounts that will be eaten quickly.
To serve, remove the container from the freezer and run a butter knife along the outer edge. Turn the container upside down and gently tap on the counter. Your suet block should pop right out.
I use mini stoneware casserole dishes so the suet blocks fit right in a bird suet feeder, which is perfect to keep them out of the dirt and off the ground, but you can also use a cake pan or larger casserole and just cut the suet into pieces.
I feel good knowing that I am not only helping our chickens deal with the cold, but also making good use of grease that I would otherwise throw out.
Another fun thing to do for your flock in the winter is to make a Nut & Scratch Wreath for your chickens to peck at. It's a great boredom buster and they will love it. Read how HERE.