Crafting homemade suet cakes for chickens is a simple way to boost the fat in your flock’s diet while giving them a way to stay occupied.
In fact, a frequent question I get is “Can chickens eat suet cakes?,” and not only is the answer a definitive “YES!” but feeding diy suet cakes to chickens can help reduce bad behavior and stress from being confined in a coop all day.
It’s summer, so right now I’m making suet cakes to help my chickens stay cool.
And they’re a total hit!
While my hens otherwise look like they’re ready to melt and are completely miserable as they try to stay cool in our 100+ degree heat, when they catch sight of their suet cakes, the light comes back in their eyes as they realize they’re about to have a blast.
Needless to say, as soon as I drop the treats in their chicken feeders, it’s game on.
I like to use coconut oil when I make homemade suet cakes for chickens because it’s good for them (with good antibacterial qualities), it’s malleable, and it holds the corn, oats, and other things I add fairly well.
It’s also a nice source of healthy fat, particularly in winter, when you need to worry more about their calorie intake in the cold.
If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can make homemade suet cakes with bacon grease or other grease leftover from cooking.
You can use grease by itself, but I like to mix it with coconut oil (especially good for winter, when the extra protein will help them out).
Remember, however, that these are treats – not a replacement for a good basic diet.
Although I can guarantee your chickens will love your homemade suet and come running whenever they see you have them!
This is the best homemade suet cake for chickens recipe I’ve found that will help your chickens improve their health while providing a treat, and I’m happy to share it with you!
What should you add to homemade suet cakes for chickens?
You can pretty much add anything that’s fine for chickens to eat. Some easy choices are:
- Chopped unsalted peanuts
- Dry peas
- Wheat berries
- Flax seeds (improves omega-3s in eggs)
- Sunflower seeds (high in fat)
I like to add more corn and peanuts in the winter for an energy boost to help them through the night.
Another option is to add pea sprouts, microgreens, etc, which is especially easy to do if you use coconut oil.
You can also add fresh or dry herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme are good options that are also easy to source.
What shape should homemade suet cakes be?
As for shape, you have a few options.
I like to use a muffin tin; we have a lot of chickens, and a single large block would get eaten by the few, leaving the rest of our chickens wanting.
So, the muffin tin makes sure everyone gets a piece of the suet cakes.
You can also use a shallow pan, or anything that fits easily into your freezer.
How to make homemade suet cakes for chickens
Grab a muffin tin or pan
If using a pan, make sure it’s deep enough to accommodate all the coconut oil you plan to use.
Melt the coconut oil over low heat, just until melted (especially important if using sprouts)
Coconut oil has a melting point of 77 degrees, so it only needs to be warmed until it starts to melt. Any more, and you might destroy some of the beneficial properties of the oil, as well as potentially cooking some of your additives (and altering their nutrients).
This is particularly key if you plan to use sprouts – when they’re fresh, sprouts have more nutrients. But if they cook in hot oil, your chickens will enjoy them less.
Stir in whatever you’re adding
I like using regular oatmeal. People always seem to give it to us, and this is a simple way to use it up that’s also a nice treat for our backyard chickens.
Grind or chop up whatever you’re adding to your homemade suet cakes to make sure the entire block doesn’t crumble, and if you use peanuts, make sure they’re unsalted.
You can also alter your recipe depending on the season, adding more corn in the winter when energy is important, and flax seeds in the summer when they’re laying eggs again.
Pour mixture into muffin tins
Fill to the top, since the coconut oil won’t really expand in the cold. You can add some extra oatmeal or corn on the top as well.
Remember that the muffin pan will be hot (especially if you let the coconut oil get hotter than 77 degrees), so be careful picking it up and moving it.
Freeze until solid
Time will vary depending on your freezer. I like to make homemade suet cakes for chickens in the evening, then let them freeze overnight.
Invert pan to remove the homemade suet cakes
If you need to, you can run a knife around the edge of the pan, but I’ve found that’s less effective than simply turning the pan over and tapping on the bottom.
Feed and watch your chickens enjoy!
Remember that coconut oil has a low melting point, so don’t remove them from the freezer until you’re actually ready to feed them.
I’ve found they start to melt as soon as I bring them outside.
Making homemade suet cakes is easy – and it’s a good way to fight boredom, reduce bad behaviors, and make sure your hens are getting extra calories!
I’d like to hear from you!
Do you think you’ll try making homemade suet cakes for chickens? Leave a comment below!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.