Maybe I am just a crazy chicken lady, but I feel like my birds deserve a little more than boring dry feed each day so I make special homemade suet treats for them to enjoy. My chickens love to see me coming to their pen with these little morsels.
The treats that I make are nutritious for the birds and there are two variations that help to keep the flock warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The winter treats contain coconut oil or grease and extra corn to give an extra boost of fat and protein that help to keep the birds active and warm. The summertime treats are made with an ice base for a refreshing respite from the hot weather.
How to Make Homemade Suet Treats
1) Gather The Ingredients
Start out by gathering any ingredients that your birds enjoy.
What can Backyard Chickens Eat?
- Oats contain a mix of vitamins & nutrients that have been shown to improve health & reduce aggression in laying hens. You can read more about the benefits of oats here.
- Feeding oats to chickens is a debated topic since oats aren’t the most digestible treat, so be sure that you do your research and make the best decision for your flock. Personally, I would only give oats as an occasional treat, but not as a supplement to their daily feed ration.
- Use caution when adding whole beans to your treats. They need to be properly heated to kill a toxin that could be fatal to your birds. Soybeans are my favorite to add to my homemade suet treats because they have very high levels of lysine and methionine, which are essential for poultry growth and production.
- Peas, like soybeans, have high lysine levels…BUT…unlike beans, peas can be added to poultry diets without prior heating or processing.
- Corn is a good source of protein & energy for laying hens and it is the easiest grain for birds to digest. Add more corn to your treats in the winter and less in the warmer months. I know this post is about occasional treats, but I feel the need to add this tidbit anyway–>Don’t use corn as the only source of feed for your birds. Chickens are NOT vegetarians so they need more than a strict grain diet.
- Make sure that the fruit has no added sugar and that seeds and pits are removed. Citrus fruit should also be avoided…this one is controversial, but as long as you stick to the guidelines for feeding dried fruit and you only give it as an occasional treat (to avoid overfeeding) it should be just fine.
- I like to mix coconut oil with bacon grease. This mixture provides extra an extra fat boost for your birds. Use this if you are giving treats in colder weather.
- Coconut Oil has a TON of benefits for flock health. It is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. It improves circulation & the immune system. That’s just taking the tip off the ‘ol iceberg, y’all. If you don’t keep coconut oil on hand, no worries… Leftover cooking grease is fine to feed.
- Use ice in place of grease and oil if you are giving the treats in the spring or summer to keep your birds cool.
2) Spray a Mini Muffin Pan
These treats don’t really stick because you are using oil as one of the main ingredients, but I didn’t want to chance it so I sprayed cooking oil to be safe.
You can also use a regular baking pan or loaf pan if you want bricks for a hanging feeder instead of individual treats. The EZ Fill Suet Basket is a simple & affordable hanging feeder for bricks, but I like this one if you want something a little fancier.
3) Fill It Up
Place your dry ingredients into the wells of the pan. Only fill the wells about 1/2 full of the seeds, grains, and other dry treats.
Now you can fill each well about 2/3 full with your melted (not cooked) oil, grease, or water.
4) Solidify the Homemade Suet Treats
Place your filled pan in the fridge to let the oil solidify. This takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the type of grease or oil that you chose. If you are making summer treats with ice, place your pan in the freezer for a few hours.
5) Store in the Freezer
Pop the solid homemade suet treats out of the pan and store them in the freezer in a plastic container or a zip loc bag. They will keep for several months in the freezer. I have some winter treats from 2 months ago that are still good as new! Just be sure to leave them in the freezer (not refrigerator) until you are ready to feed them or they will start to melt.
6) Serve ’em Up!
Throw a couple of your homemade suet treats out to your barnyard birds and watch them gobble ’em up! Seriously, they love these things! Let me know if your chickens are fans and what ingredients you used in your treats!