Sunday, January 4, 2009

How long Before Raw Suet Goes Rancid?

Yes I am on a posting roll here. I put out some raw suet in a suet cage for the birds and froze the rest. The temperatures here in Massachusetts are expected to go slightly above freezing for the next couple of days.

How long should I wait to refill the suet (and wash the cage), before I put new raw suet in the feeder. I don't want to make the birds sick.

Also, does anyone in the blogging world do this and if so, what kind of birds does it attract. Does it attract other mammals I may not want in my yard? HA! I should have asked all of these questions prior to buying it I guess.

Thanks in advance.


A New England Life said...

I put suet out all the time. This time of year you really don't have to worry about it going rancid outside. If you leave it in your refrigerator that's another story. And believe me, you'll know if it's gone bad because it smells!

This winter I've kept 2 suet cages full and I haven't washed them, though if it were the fall or spring I would wash them each time before I filled them, just because mold can start to grow when the temps aren't below freezing.

Also, if you buy a big pack of suet, cut it into slices, then take what ever you aren't using, put it in a ziploc plastic baggie and store it in your freezer. If you don't slice it first you'll have a dickens of a time trying to cut it up when you need it! Spring and summer you really have to watch it because warm days can cause the suet to mold and make birds sick.

And no, it won't attract other animals. The woodpeckers and chickadees love it! Great for some pictures ; )


Diane said...

Are you gals talking about beef fat?

A New England Life said...

Hi Diane,

Why yes we are. Around here we call it suet. I see suet is a mixture of ingredients where you live, is that right?


Diane said...

Yes, Sharon, somehow I think its one of those cross-over terms. I was thinking about beef fat yesterday because the lard I bought and the peanut butter seemed too soft at room temperature.By the way, its nice to meet you - my sister's name is Sharon, also!

Kallen305 said...

Sharon, do you use raw suet to put out? I decided to try that as well as my homemade suet that I do with lard. I have 10 lbs of lard in my house which will last me throughout the winter, but the real suet was on $2.00 so I thought I would buy it. I only put a small amount out there to see if they like it. The rest is frozen for future use.

Diane, did you add any corn meal, oatmeal or flour to your home made suet? The first time I made my batch of suet it came out watery too so I had to adjust my dry ingredients some. Once you get the hang of it, you will not want to go back to buying the pre made stuff. The woodpeckers love my suet but so do the starlings which is a bummer.

That is why I want to try the raw suet to see if the woodpeckers and chickadees will like it. I read somewhere that chickadees have been known to eat dead animal carcases in the wild for the protein it gives them. I will report my findings later this week. HA!

A New England Life said...


I fill the suet cages as full as I can with the raw beef suet. It's cheap and the birds love it! The squirrels don't seem to bother with it either, which I like. Whenever I buy suet with seeds the squirrels haul it all off within a day or two.

Diane said...

Ok ladies, we should open a forum on suet? just kidding - but, yes, Kallen I followed 'Zicks' recipe and even added extra birdseed - but now that I know how it works, I think it will be better next time. I remember the 'old' people talk about putting beef suet out for the birds when I was a kid. One more thought (question) I didn't think suet was necessary in the summer? Thank you for sharing your experience with me! Its such a help!

Kallen305 said...

We can use my blog to discuss this so it will be in cyber space for future reference ;o). These are actually my favorite blog topics because I learn from them and I am hoping other readers can too. It's a win/win situation.

Diane, I don't feed the birds in the summer. The only thing I have out if nyjer seed and nectar for hummingbirds. Sometimes I will have hulled sunflowers in a satellite feeder for my chickadees, but that's it. I can't feed in summer because the squirrels and house sparrows hog all of the food and make a mess of my yard. I do have fruit trees though so I get plenty of birds.

Birds do not need suet in the summer because they can get their protein from insects. Many people still feed them suet in the summer because they enjoy watching them eat it. I did it last summer and had mockingbirds and cat birds on my feeders and it was a lot of fun to watch.

Diane said...

Thanks Kallen! This has been delightful! Thank you, too, Sharon! You've both helped a lot.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Thanks to all of you for the great advice. I have suet and feeder that I bought at Lowe's.. It had alot of peanut butter in it. So far, I have Chickadees, a Carolina Wren and a Downy at that feeder. I hope to see more woodpeckers at that feeder in the spring.

I do learn alot from discussions like this. I am a new 'birder' ---so need alot of help!!!!

Anonymous said...

Kallen..raccoons will be attracted to any kind of suet, fresh or cakes which is why I being mine it at night as they have hauled off several feeders.

In the summer I use a suet dough which the woodpeckers being their fledglings to to learn how to use it before the winter comes. The dough doesn't melt or coat the bird's feathers like a suet cake does. The suet feeders are upside down and the starlings and squirrels can't cling to them so I don't have a problem with them.

There are people on my Cornell list who will get deer carcasses and put them out, but they live in the country..

Richard said...

Was reading in a blog (can't remember which one) that it is quite common to take road kill deer carcass, cut it up and nail it to trees for the birds.

dAwN said...

I am in florida now and my suet is melting...well my mixture of lard..peanut butter and seeds...guess its too hot and they dont need it...the grackles seem to like it!
Good info everyone..

NCmountainwoman said...

Oh yes. Lots of animals love suet. Specifically, bears, raccoons, and even 'possums will be attracted. Best to bring it in at night if you have any of these around.

Susan Gets Native said...

Don't worry about it going bad now. If it gets above 50 for more than a day, think about taking it down and putting up fresh.

It WILL attract mammals....omnivores like raccoons and possums....stray dogs, too....
Of course, you could let it get rancid and stinky and watch the turkey vultures come in!
That was a joke : )

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am new to birding and thank everyone for posting your suggestions and comments. I put out suet and live in a very rainy city Vancouver B.C any idea how long I can leave it out in the rain with out going rancid. I usually cover it with a plastic tarp at night when it's not being used. I look forward to your comments. Thank you! :)


C Beilfuss said...

Hey Ivy,

Not sure if you found your answer in the past year but you don't have to worry about leaving suet out in the rain. It's animal fat so the water should just bead off. We've been getting more rain than snow here in the northeast US and with Trump as prez it's probably going to be even more of that in the winters to come.. but I have suet out in the rain right now and it's fine.



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