We have a saying here at Homestead Fresh, and I’m sure many of you have the save thought process (though, some of you may not)….
If it lives in the house, it’s a pet (even our outdoor pets like cats and dogs come inside now an then, so they count as pets).
If it lives outside, it is not a pet – it is a producer and needs to give back to the homestead.
I know, for many people out there this may sound harsh, but this is how we manage our homestead and work to live more self-sustainable. It is a give-and-take relationship and we do not apologize for it.
We give them food, medicines, comfortable living, and in many cases – toys to play with. In turn, they give us food that was raised in a happy and healthy environment free from chemicals and hormones.
Just because we consider them and what they provide us as food or potential food, it doesn’t mean we don’t care for them – quite the opposite! We know that if you want to have happy, healthy, and productive livestock, that you have to provide them with everything they need including a loving and healthy environment. No, we aren’t knitting sweaters and hats for our chickens, heck… aside from our one rooster, they don’t even have names. They do have numbers though, and I will tell you that #2, a Dominique hen, has developed quite an obsession with me 😊
Part of giving them everything they need, is knowing when they will need something extra special. Something that makes them happy, keeps them healthy, and ultimately keeps them producing.
Winter is a hard time for many animals. The cooler weather, loss of fresh grass, and reduced sunlight can have very noticeable effects on livestock. As their caretaker, it is our responsibility to ensure they get everything they need over the colder months like proper shelter and all the nutrients they need.
For chickens, one fun, easy, inexpensive, treat you can make for your feathered friends are Suet Cakes.
Suet, is a European English word for leaf lard. For our recipe, we simply use lard or coconut oil.
These are fabulous in the winter as it provides them with the fats they need to retain protein, and also has extra protein included that might be lost when there just aren’t any crickets and grasshoppers around.
What really makes this recipe so fantastic, is:
· You can change it up as much as you like.
In essence, you just need enough Suet (or Lard, Coconut Oil, Bacon Grease, etc.), some protein to add (I suggest meal worms personally), extra proteins like nuts and seeds, some dried fruits, and some herbs for good health (garlic, cayenne, oregano, cinnamon).
Makes disposing of left over grease so much better!
You can save your grease in the freezer, and when your ready to make these treats, you don’t have to buy any suet – you will already have the fats you need.
Much better than dumping hot grease outside or pouring down the drain and clogging your pipes (never a good idea).
Great as a summer treat as well! Pop them in the freezer and your feathered friends have a wonderful, protein packed, lard-cicle!
Each time I take these out, the chickens get more and more excited. I’m thinking of playing around with different shapes and making holders for them… chickens are very curious and love to play. I can’t think of a better way than a tasty piñata to satisfy their playful personalities!