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A Beginner's Guide to Suet

A Beginner's Guide to Suet

First things first; What is suet? Suet, in its raw form, is the fat that surrounds the kidneys and found in the loins of animals like cows. It is the purest and hardest piece of fat found on an animal.

But, this doesn’t sound natural for a bird to eat? In the wild, birds are able to scavenge for suet and other animal fat from carcasses. In the cold winter months, when birds have to expend so much of their energy just to stay warm, animal fat is a great quick source of heat and energy for many birds. Also, many birds that eat insects to round out their diets will eat suet in the winter months to fill the void when the insects they typically feed on are not plentiful.

Feeding Suet

Suet can be fed raw or rendered (put through a melting and re-hardening process) and formed into cakes or other shapes with additional ingredients. During warmer weather, rendered suet will keep fresh longer than raw suet. This is because the rendering process helps to raise the melting point of the fat, meaning it will last longer before it starts to go rancid. Raw suet can be rendered multiple times to give them even more durability when temperatures are high.

While rendering suet for this practical purpose isn’t as important in the colder winter months, one of the main reasons for making homemade suet is to add other ingredients. Common ingredients to add include seeds, grains, fruit, nuts, and even eggshells. Deciding what additional ingredients to use can be personalized based on what birds you have or want to attract. For instance, Blue jays will be drawn to suet with peanuts in it, while putting raisins or dried mealworms in the suet may be more enticing to your bluebirds.

Another reason some birders opt to make their own suet is to mold it in to certain shapes. Balls, stars, hearts, and bell shapes strung from a hook or tree can add a decorative touch and do not require any type of specialty feeder.

A downside to rendering and putting additional ingredients in suet during the winter months, when the heat is not an issue, is that it can attract some unwanted visitors. While most squirrels will leave raw suet alone, they will be attracted to any nuts or seed in rendered versions. Raw suet can be sliced to fit in specialty suet feeders, or large chunks can simply be strung up using onion or potato sacks.

Starter Suet Recipes

Soft Peanut Butter Mix

1 cup freshly ground suet

1 cup peanut butter

3 cups yellow cornmeal

½ cup whole wheat flour

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan.
  2. Add peanut butter, stirring until melted and well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together last two ingredients.
  4. Once suet & peanut butter blend has had time to cool and started to thicken, add dry mixture and blend into dough.

It is now ready to serve. This recipe is great for packing into feeders or smearing directly onto tree trunks.

Hard Peanut Butter Mix

2 cups fresh suet

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups yellow cornmeal

2 cups fine cracked corn*

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan. Allow it to cool thoroughly. Reheat.
  2. Add peanut butter, stirring until melted and well blended.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to liquid and blend well.
  4. Pour into forms and cool until hardened.

It is now ready to serve. This recipe is great for making suet cakes to use in traditional feeders with suet cages. Since this mixture is rendered twice, it will last longer outdoors than the “Soft” recipes and will do better in warmer temperatures.

*Any type of bird seed or unsalted nuts you have on hand can be substituted.

Suggested Feeders for Suet



Tail-prop suet feeders in either Cedar or Bamboo are great for attracting medium and larger woodpeckers such as the Northern Flicker and Pileated









Have trouble with nuisance birds like Starlings and Grackles raiding your suet? We suggest using an upside-down suet feeder in either Cedar or Bamboo to deter these birds.



Wanting to feed suet in addition to other seed types to attract the widest variety of birds to your year? A traditional hopper feeder with suet cages in either Cedar or Bamboo is a great option!





























































































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