Saturday, November 30, 2013

Making Chicken Suet

The winters are understandably tough on the livestock.  The chickens are usually forced to stay in the coop since they don't like to venture out in the snow (or wind or rain).  Their egg production goes down to zero, which is natural for them as they need more light than we have right now, about 16 hours versus the 8 we get now.  Since we live off-grid, we don't have the extra energy in the winter to put in a lightbulb, and I prefer that our animals live as naturally as possible.  Since they only will lay a certain number of eggs in their lifetime, I'd rather not rush it out of them, and allow their bodies to have a vacation.  They eat layer crumble in the winter which I supplement with black oil sunflower seeds, since there aren't any bugs or fresh grass to gobble up.  They usually also go through a molt in the late fall and they need extra protein in their diets to regrow the feathers.  Most people are familiar with suet balls for wild birds, so I decided to make some for our chickens.  They are kind of expensive to buy, which is another motivating factor for me.

We usually save the grease when cooking, anyway, so we just saved it a little longer until we had a couple plastic containers worth. I know there is both pork and beef drippings, most likely some turkey and chicken fat too.

I picked up some silicone mini bread pans at the thrift store which were perfectly sized for a suet loaf.  I scooped out a little grease into each one, about half full, popped them in a 200 degree oven (on a cookie sheet for stability) until they were mostly melted.  

Then I filled it almost to the top with some bird seed (for wild birds).  

Since it's been below freezing outside, I set the cookie sheet outside to cool down and firm up.  Within an hour, it was firm enough to pop out and I wrapped them individually with wax paper.  


I'm storing them in the freezer (which you don't have to do if it's cool enough outside, but I actually have room in there right now!) and doling them out to the chickens every week.  Each loaf lasts about 4 days.

1 comment:

  1. That is really cool! I wish I had seen this post when we still had chickens.