How to make fat cakes for birds

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec

Takes just:

20 minutes

Birds love fat cakes and at this time of year they're just what they need to give them energy and keep warm. But the feeding balls needn't be shop bought; you can use all sorts of kitchen scraps such as cheese and dry porridge oats. Just mix with melted lard or suet and set in the fridge overnight.

Avoid using turkey fat, which doesn't set like suet and lard, and can coat birds' feathers, preventing them from being able to fly. It can also spread disease.

Discover more ways to help your garden wildlife by creating dead wood habitats and with our top 4 jobs for wildlife in autumn.

You will need

  • Lard or suet bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • String or twine
  • Old yoghurt pots
  • Any of the following: wild bird seed, currants, sultanas, oats, bread and cake crumbs, grated cheese and peanuts.

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The best ratio for this recipe is one part fat to two parts dry mixture. Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Melt some lard or suet in a pan and add the dry mix. Stir well until the fat has all been absorbed and the mixture sticks together.

Make a hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot and thread through a length of twine or string, then pack the pot with your warm fat mixture.

Place in the fridge overnight to set, then cut through and peel away the pot. Tie a big knot at one end of the twine to secure the cake.

Hang the cake in a tree or shrub and wait for the birds to come and feast.

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Kate Bradbury

Kate Bradbury says

Keep a store of fat cakes in your freezer, taking just one or two out at a time on cold winter days. Never put them out in summer – in very hot weather the fat may melt and could smear onto birds’ feathers, preventing them from being able to fly.

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