Can You Use Bacon Grease for Bird Suet?

Putting out suet is a great way to attract delightful birds like chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers to your yard in winter. Suet provides birds with high-calorie fat to survive cold weather and migration. But with many recipes calling for animal fats, a common question is whether bacon grease can be used for homemade bird suet.

The short answer is yes, bacon grease can be used to make suet for birds. However, there are some important considerations regarding safety and proper formulation Here is a deeper look at using bacon fat for bird suet cakes and feeders

Overview of Bacon Grease in Suet

Bacon grease is the leftover fat rendered from cooking bacon Its high fat content appears to make it an ideal ingredient for energy-dense suet However, pure bacon grease has some drawbacks

  • Soft consistency – Bacon fat remains soft, spreadable, and sticky at room and outdoor temperatures. This can coat birds’ feathers.

  • Low melt point – The low melting point of bacon grease means suet can get messy in warm weather.

  • High salt content – Bacon contains added salt that can be unhealthy for birds in large amounts.

  • Can turn rancid – Like any animal-based fat, bacon grease can spoil and become rancid over time.

With proper formulation and storage, these downsides can be mitigated. But it takes care to use bacon grease appropriately in bird suet.

Best Practices for Using Bacon Grease in Suet

When incorporating bacon fat into suet, keep these tips in mind:

  • Limit bacon grease to 20-30% of the total suet mixture. Use just enough to add flavor.

  • Combine with harder fats like beef suet to raise the melt point. This prevents the suet from getting soft and messy in warmer weather.

  • Add crumbled cornbread, oats, peanut butter, or dried insect/fruit purée to absorb excess grease and add nutrition.

  • Refrigerate or freeze suet when not in use to prevent rancidity of the bacon fat.

  • Use wire suet feeders so birds cannot access and coat their feathers with soft fats.

  • Offer suet in winter only when birds need extra fat. Remove in warmer months.

With the right balance of ingredients, bacon grease can add appetizing flavor and calories to suet. But it shouldn’t make up the bulk of the mixture. Follow recipes formulated specifically for using small amounts of bacon fat safely.

Why Grease Can Be Risky for Birds

Before using bacon fat, it’s important to understand why greasy suet can be problematic for birds:

  • Grease coats feathers and reduces their insulating and waterproofing ability. This can lead to hypothermia and even death.

  • As birds preen, they ingest harmful amounts of salt and rancid fat off greasy feathers.

  • Soft fats allow birds to pick up grease on their feet and spread it to more feathers as they perch and climb.

  • Bacon grease is very soft with a low melt point, meaning it easily coats feathers. Hard suet is safer.

While an occasional bit of fat won’t harm them, when birds get fully coated in grease it impairs their feather function. Always formulate suet to be more dry and crumbly than wet and sticky.

Safest Alternatives to Bacon Grease

If you want to avoid the risks of soft bacon fat entirely, use these safer alternatives:

  • Beef suet – Very hard tallow fat around the kidneys with a high melt point.

  • Peanut butter – High in fat and will not coat feathers. Has a melt point over 100°F.

  • Cornmeal, oats, dry milk powder – Absorb grease and add less risky calories.

  • Insect or fruit purée – Provides nutrition without heavy fats.

  • Commercially-made no-melt suet cakes – Formulated not to coat feathers.

  • Lard – Firmer than bacon grease. But still has a low melt point compared to suet.

The best course is buying or making suet strictly from beef suet combined with nutritious crumbles. But if using bacon fat, limit to small amounts in suet feeders only.

Proper Feeding Guidelines for Suet

To safely offer suet containing bacon grease or any animal fat, follow these guidelines:

  • Use cages or mesh suet feeders so birds don’t access fat directly. Discard if any buildup develops.

  • situate feeders in partial shade and out of direct sunlight to prevent melting.

  • Remove in temperatures over 70°F as soft fats can smear feathers.

  • Take feeders inside overnight in warm months if housing vulnerable fledglings.

  • Don’t allow suet to get wet, grow mold, or become rancid.

  • Refrigerate or freeze suet to extend freshness if birds don’t eat it quickly.

  • Monitor suet regularly and replace promptly when needed. Don’t allow it to sit out for extended periods.

With responsible feeding practices, suet can provide vital nutrition. But improper use of fatty suet can also put birds at risk. So offer it carefully according to best practices.

Healthy, Nutritious Alternatives to Suet

While suet offers birds a concentrated source of fat, it shouldn’t be the sole feeding option. Provide diverse foods:

  • Black oil sunflower seeds – Highest in fat and protein compared to other seeds.

  • Safflower seeds – Also high in fat. Cardinal favorite.

  • Nyjer seed – High in oil, loved by finches.

  • Mealworms – Dried or live larvae are full of protein and fat.

  • Fruit – Chopped raisins, berries, apple, etc. Loaded with carbs.

  • Nut pieces – Peanuts, almonds, pecans, etc. Packed with healthy fats.

  • Peanut butter – A great high-fat food nutritious birds enjoy.

Varying the diet gives birds well-rounded nutrition, vitamins, protein, fiber, and fats. Suet should supplement these foods rather than replace them.

Can You Make Suet With Other Meat Fats?

Besides bacon, some other animal fats like poultry drippings or beef tallow might seem usable for suet. However, the same risks and guidelines apply. Any soft, greasy fat can coat feathers. Always combine with hard suet or crumbles that absorb and solidify the fat. Never offer pure liquid oils.



Is bacon grease safe for birds?

Not recommended. Bacon drippings are animal fat just like suet, and many birds will eat it. But bacon virtually always has detectable amounts of nitrosamines, carcinogenic compounds formed from some of the preservatives used in bacon.

How do you use bacon fat for birds?

Directions: With your liquid bacon fat still on the parchment and in the pan, measure one cup of birdseed and pour it onto the bacon grease covered parchment. Use a spatula to mix the birdseed into the grease and scrape all of the grease on the parchment onto the birdseed.

What is the best fat for bird suet?

True suet (or maybe true lard, though pork subcutaneous fat is often erroneously called “lard” – true lard also comes from the groin) is the only safe fat for birds. Make suets with true suet, millet and hulled sunflower seed, some oats, and peanut butter.

Leave a Comment