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Home-Made Suet Blocks for Chickens

 Even though chooks can fall off laying over winter they need to stay conditioned, so with a bit of help, this is an excellent way to give your girls that extra nutrition, fat and energy they need if they can’t be out foraging for insects and green stuff which can be less available in winter if you don’t have a large property.

Home-made suet blocks use tallow - the fat from meat - that can be combined with healthy seeds, herbs, nuts and spices for the extra fat and energy they need.

Chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians, they will cannibalise dead animals, birds, and left over meats, etc, so using fats left over from meats is a great, healthy supplement for them and is a wonderful way of keeping them bursting full of energy when they come back into laying in spring.

In cold weather blocks provide kilojoules to keep the birds warm. Whether saving your drippings every time you cook meat or getting your neighbours, friends or family to hand over theirs, you can a get a lot in no time and render your own fat ready to make these blocks - or you could ask your local butcher, who would probably be glad to get rid of it.

Note: You can buy suet or lard from local supermarkets BUT this is usually hydrogenated, so not at all healthy for us or the chooks! and defeats the principles of reusing and re-purposing for sustainability and health which permies follow

Home-Made Suet Blocks for Chooks

Home-Made Suet Blocks for Chooks

 

 

Recipe - Home-Made Suet Blocks for Chickens

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups melted tallow, lard, or meat drippings that have been rendered

1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds in the shell

1 cup dried fruit, raisins, chopped apples, etc

1 cup whole grains - scratch mix, whole wheat, oats, or millet are ideal

 

Method

Line a 22 x 9.5cm loaf pan, or similar sized pan with baking paper or foil. Mix the seeds, fruit, and grains together, and place in pan.

Cover dry ingredients completely with the liquid fat. Mash everything around with a fork to make sure there are no air bubbles.

Allow the cake to harden completely. You can speed up this process by sticking it in the refrigerator for a while.

Remove it from the pan by lifting the baking paper liner out of the pan. You can now cut the block into several pieces, or feed the whole thing at once, depending on how many chickens you have to feed, by either tossing it in their feed pan, or pin it to the wall of the coop with a scrap of chicken wire as shown here.

Suet can also be packed into toilet paper roll inserts and stored in the freezer until needed. It is easy to peel the cardboard off and the discarded roll can then be used as fire lighters.

The blocks can be frozen up to 3 months so a large batch would supplement their feeding through the winter.

Home-Made Suet Blocks for Chooks - Wire Holder

Home-Made Suet Blocks for Chooks - Wire Holder

Happy Chooks!

Block attached to wall with wire

The recipe is extremely flexible so play around with it depending on what you have available. Some suggestions are:

chopped unsalted nuts or peanut butter

sprinkled in spices and herbs such as garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, rosemary, etc.

Note: Pour your drippings and fat, into a glass or metal container or bowl, NOT plastic, while you wait to amass enough for making your blocks.

If using your own saved fats - or re-purposing from other people - make sure you don’t use fat from meats that have sulphites, sodium and nitrates in them such as bacon and some sausages. Store it in the freezer until you have enough to make this recipe.

Home-Made Suet Blocks for Happy Chooks

Home-Made Suet Blocks for Happy Chooks

TO RENDER YOUR SUET or FATS

Tallow - Fat Pieces

Tallow - Fat Pieces

Ingredients

Quality beef fat - also known as suet but other fats and drippings are ok

(You can render any sort of beef fat into tallow, but the absolute best is considered to be the “leaf fat” which lies around the kidneys of the animal. It is the cleanest and mildest tasting, and grass fed beef fat if at all possible.)

Large stock pot OR slow cooker

Clean glass jars for storage, wide mouth work best OR toilet roll inserts

Cheesecloth or 100% cotton flatfold nappy 😊…unused

Rendering tallow is NOT difficult but does take a little bit of time. There are 2 methods: wet rendering (where you add some water to the pot), and dry rendering (no water.) This is the dry method, it is simpler and there is less concern about the fat going rancid.

Method

Refrigerate fats you are using overnight, it should be the consistency of cold butter. Cold fat is MUCH easier to handle.

Trim the fat, chop into manageable chunks, then trim off any bits of meat, blood, gristle, or whatever else you may find. Do your best, there may be no way to get every little piece. Just do the best you can, and the rendering process will cook out the rest.

Once you have everything trimmed, run the fat through the food processor, until it is the consistency of ground meat. If you don’t have a food processor, you can simply chop the fat into small pieces, shredding in a processor is simply faster.

Dump the shredded fat into a large stockpot or your slow cooker. Begin melting it at very low heat. It will take a while, but you most definitely do NOT want to burn it.

Tallow Shredded Fat

Tallow Shredded Fat

THE WAITING GAME: It will probably take several hours, depending on how much fat you are rendering. I had my 8litre crockpot full, and it took 6-8 hours to render. Check fat occasionally for burning and give it a stir when you think about it. As the fat renders, it will slowly begin to melt and allow “impurities” to rise to the top.

Tallow Impurities to remove

Tallow Impurities to remove

Impurities – remove these

It’s done when there is clear liquid at the bottom and crispy bits floating on top.

Strain tallow through a piece of cheesecloth or the nappy fabric. Remove ALL the “floaties”, so you definitely need something more than a colander - but - you can place your cheesecloth inside a colander to make the straining easier.

Tallow Strain directly into jar or toilet roll insert

Tallow Strain directly into jar or toilet roll insert

Pour into your jars, toilet roll inserts OR line baking pans with baking paper or waxed paper and pour the liquid fat into the pans. Allow it to harden completely.  If you are using fat from a beef-breed animal, Angus or Hereford for example, your tallow should turn a creamy white as it cools. If the fat is from a dairy breed, then it’s likely the hardened tallow will be bright yellow. Neither one is better or worse - just different!

Suitable also for candle making, soaps, etc

When hardened, cut into bars, and/or put the blocks or rolls into the freezer until needed for making your chook blocks.

 

Tallow Hardening in Pans

Tallow Hardening in Pans

Health Benefits of Tallow

When hardened, cut into bars, and/or put the blocks or rolls into the freezer until needed for making your chook blocks.

These blocks are also perfect for you to use in home cooking. That’s it. Well done! - Annette Jones

Health Benefits of Tallow

Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. For instance grass fed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats to keep the heart pumping hard and healthy, tallow and lard are saturated fats. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard.

Tallow Bars cleaned ready for freezing

Tallow Bars cleaned ready for freezing