Suet Bird Food

Suet bird food is probably the most high energy wild bird food which can be offered to our feathered friends.

It supplies not only a full belly but fuel to carry their little bodies through a bitter cold winter night.

What Is Suet?

Suet is made using the fat that is found around the kidneys and loin of cattle or sheep.

Used straight from the animal the bird suet is flaky and well accepted by wild birds. But all bits of meat must be removed from the fresh suet or it will spoil.

There is one drawback to using it “as is”, after the fresh meat is removed. It will go rancid quickly in warmer temperatures.

(You will find links to more info related to this topic in the right column or bottom of page.)

Beef fat is considered by some, to be a superior suet bird food to sheep or mutton. Some people recommend lard, bacon drippings and pork roast drippings as good substitutes or additions to beef suet bird food. Availability and experimentation will lead to your favourite method.

Keep Suet Fresh

Rendered Suet

Rendered suet is the process by which beef fat is melted, strained and cooled. This process helps the suet from turning rancid by killing microbes which cause bacterial growth.

This is also called tallow and used for other purposes too such as candle making, leather lubricants, soap etc.

The cracklings and bits that are strained out of the fat can be spread on a table or platform feeder for the birds to eat. 

Rendering beef fat makes it hard when it cools. It is then able to withstand warmer temperatures without becoming “sloppy”.

In the early 1900’s, and earlier, the term “Bird stone” was used for hard beef suet that had been put through the rendering process. 

Some recipes suggest heating the fat twice, to help solve the problem of going soft and rancid in summer heat.

It will also be very helpful to hang the suet feeder in as much shade as possible, especially during the hottest part of the day.

A wild bird store or bird seed suppliers will offer summer suet for sale. More on Summer Bird Feeding.

Heating Fat

It is important to point out that suet being a fat, if heated to high temperatures, could become flammable. Never use a lid on a pot when heating fat. When the lid is removed the hot fat being suddenly exposed to the oxygen will burst into flame.

One more word of caution, never try to douse a fat fire with water, as it will then cause the fat to explode. I’m sorry to be so cautionary, but if someone is not aware of this possibility, it could be very dangerous.

A friend of mine when I was growing up, was trying to help her Mom by cooking dinner before her Mom came home from work. She found out the hard way how hot fat, pot lids and water work together to become a dangerous combination!

She heated the fat with the lid on. When she removed the lid the fat burst into flames. Then she quickly grabbed a glass of water and threw it on the flames. This caused an explosion. Fortunately it all turned out OK. My friend only suffered minor burns!

For all avid "woodworkers" here is a selection of great books with beautiful bird house and bird feeder plans you can make. Have a look around at their site for great deals on woodworking tools too!

Bon Appetite!

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Become A Backyard Bird Expert

        Would you like to be a bird expert able to:

  • Know by sight all the birds that visit your backyard?
  • Identify the birds you hear on a walk?
  • Answer your Grandkids or friends question, "What bird is that?".

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