If you follow this blog, you know that I’m a big believer in giving your flock small amounts of meat. I also think that for those of use with cold winters, you should routinely give your birds a bit of fat in the form of suet during the winter months.
Most of the time I purchase those commercial suet blocks (and who really knows what’s in those things, right? Probably a ton of wax to keep it from melting in the summer) and throw them into the coop. Once I made my own suet blocks (which involved melting down suet I got from the store, taking out the nastier bits and then cooling it down.) Although the chickens loved it, it was a bit messy and I don’t think I’ll be doing that little project too often.
This weekend we made bacon (to celebrate making it through the storm without losing our electricity.) Although we love bacon (we’ve even been known to receive bacon soap as a gift) we hate the clean-up. If you don’t get to it before the pan cools down (which is about 10 minutes in our old house) then the fat starts turning to that white solid stuff and it’s nothing short of disgusting.
Lightbulb goes on.
Wait a minute. Liquid fat to solid white fat…
This time instead of pouring the fat into a container to dispose of (I do save some for cooking but let’s face it, a few tablespoons is more than I need), I put a handful of that “Rock-N-Rooster Premium 5 Grain Scratch” sample feed I had been given at the Northeaster Poultry show into a glass bowl and then poured the melted bacon grease on top.
When it cooled, what I got was “Easy-to-make suet rounds.” This combination makes a very soft suet mixture (soft enough to spread on toast – yuck) and I imagine that these will work better when the temperatures are cooler than say, in the middle of the summer when they would melt in a heartbeat. I’m sure that you could also experiment with various combinations of binders. For example, chunks of stale bread might work well at holding the grease together, but I’d stay away from anything that is watery like left over veggies. And of course, putting them in the freezer will make it easier to work with them.
Worst case, if you get a very soft mixture is to just mix it up with everything else that is in the morning’s chicken bucket. The birds will still end up getting the fat they’ll need to get them through the cold nights.
I know, I know, there are bad things in bacon like nitrates (you can buy nitrate-free bacon) and salt and yeah, you shouldn’t be feeding that kind of stuff to your flock on a regular basis, but in our house, we have bacon about 2 times a month. I’m sure that some occasional bacon fat is not going to be a problem to our flock.
And oh, how it helps with cleanup.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com