Updated: Jan 21, 2022
Suet cakes are a flock favorite during the coldest months of the year, both as a boredom buster and a warming source of dense nutrition. Depending on your suet cake shape and size, you can simply string them up with twine, offer them in a bowl, or put them in a suet cage.
Suet is a great treat that can be adapted to the changing seasons, but is particularly helpful during winter and molting season.
What is suet?
The suet part of our chicken cake is the fat base. You can use fat from animals, meat drippings, or coconut oil. Suet is the main ingredient which will hold all your other ingredients together into a shape.
tallow (rendered beef fat)
fatty meat drippings
coconut oil can be used in place of animal fat (If the temperature outside is 76 degrees or above, the coconut oil will melt)
The add ons are where you can get creative and gear your suet cakes to the chicks needs, dependent on the season of the year. Here are some suggestions:
Unsalted sunflower seeds (in the shell)
Black oil sunflowers seeds
Chicken scratch blend
Unsalted pumpkin seeds (good for natural de-worming)
Cracked Corn (good for warmth in winter)
Ground Cinnamon, Clove, or Cayenne
Dried herbs and flowers
The options are many and you can mix and match based on what you have in the pantry or the garden. You also have options for how to create your suet cakes. You can fill a pan with your ingredients and then chop it up into pieces once hardened, fill silicone molds in various shapes for individual pieces, or use a muffin tin. You can place your suet cakes in a bowl, into suet cages, or hang them for some extra fun. This is a great activity to do with children, as it is easy to make, and allows them to get involved in caring for the flock.
Choose the dried ingredients that you are going to be using, mix them up, and place them in the bottom of your tins, molds, or pan. (If you are worried about these sticking to the pan you are using, place a piece of parchment paper down first and then your ingredients on top.)
Add your melted coconut oil or liquid animal fat on top of your dried ingredients
Place your pan, tins, or molds into the fridge, freezer, or out in the sub zero temps until the oil or fat has fully hardened (approx. 1 hour in the freezer)
Remove your suet cakes from the molds and wrap each one in some wax or parchment paper and store in an air tight container or bag in the fridge, freezer, or cold area until you are ready to use them. If you are ready to use them right away, then go ahead and hang them or toss them out to your soon to be very happy chicks. Just be cautious to not store your suet cakes anywhere that they will melt and create a big mushy mess. If this happens, simply stick the bag back somewhere cold and allow to re-harden.
If you are storing them in the freezer, allow to thaw a bit before feeding to the chickens. Do not give these to the chickens as a super hard frozen ice block, as it won't be much fun for them, nor very pleasant in the cooler months.
If you are feeling generous, these are also lovely gifts for the wild birds on your property in winter.
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