Backyard Bird Feeding: Is it Time to Switch from Suet to Dough?

With rising temperatures, is it time to switch to a no-melt dough for your bird feeding?

Rob Ripma

Everyone loves to have woodpeckers at their feeders all year long, but in the heat of the summer, suet can turn your bird feeding station into a mess. Here in Indiana and in many other locations around the country, it’s already been hot enough for suet to start to melt. Melting suet not only creates a mess on your feeders in your yard, but it can be harmful to the birds that you are trying to feed.

Melting suet can coat the belly feathers of the birds that are eating it, which can be a huge problem during the summer months when these species are incubating their eggs. Bird’s eggs have tiny pores in them that allow the developing bird inside to get enough oxygen. The suet that gets on the belly of an incubating bird can then transfer to the egg and close off those pores. Eggs that do not get enough oxygen can’t survive and will not hatch.

This Golden-fronted Woodpecker stopped long enough for me to get a photo as it headed for some no-melt dough at South Texas bird feeding station.

This Golden-fronted Woodpecker stopped long enough for me to get a photo as it headed for some no-melt dough at South Texas bird feeding station.

Most suet cakes claim to be good to use up to 85° Fahrenheit, but I tend to switch over to no-melt doughs before it gets that warm, especially if my feeder is in direct sunlight. If you do end up with a suet cake melting in your feeder, be sure to clean the feeder out extremely well before refilling it with no-melt dough. You can usually find no-melt dough in the same locations that you purchase regular suet.

  1. mary says

    What do you mean dough. Where do you get it for the birds. Or is it something that you make? Thank you for sharing this article. I didn’t know that

    • Jodi says

      “Dough” is the no melt suet. Looks pretty much the same and sold right along side the normal lard suet. The difference is that is thicker, drier, not as greasy and based with something like corn.

    • Judith says

      The problem I have with the no melt suet in the summer is ants, I do not have trouble in the winter even though we do not get snow. How can I use suet in the summer without the ants getting it?

  2. marlene says

    Is there a recipe for the no melt dough? I make my own suet, this is the first I’ve heard of the dough

  3. Dianne says

    I find the no melt dough at my Ace Hardware store and at Home Depot. As well as our local bird store. It works.

  4. Peg1016 says

    Nice article but I expected to see a recipe for the no melt dough. Can you add one so we can try it?

  5. Barb says

    Hello Mary and Marlene, I just received the article today, June 16, and I don’t see any reply to your inquiry. Did you ever figure out what ‘no-melt dough’ is that the articles refers to? I’ve never heard of it. Thanks.

    • Jodi says

      “Dough” is the no melt suet. Looks pretty much the same and sold right along side the normal lard suet. The difference is that is thicker, drier, not as greasy and based with something like corn.

  6. Papa says

    You can get the dough at Wild Birds Unlimited stores. I’m wondering if the squirrels will leave it alone as I cant use suet because the squirrels eat it all before the birds can get it.

    • Cherie says

      The squirrels love the no melt just as much as the suet – they are eating mine all the time – at least it makes me replace it often enough that it stays fresh! :(

  7. PamC says

    I replace suet in the warm months with shelled peanuts. Woodpeckers and my winter birds come all year long.

  8. PamC says

    I replace suet in the warm months with shelled peanuts. Woodpeckers and my winter birds come all year long.

  9. PamC says

    I replace suet in the warm months with shelled peanuts. Woodpeckers and my winter birds come all year long.

  10. Paul says

    You purchase suet dough cakes at the same place that you buy regular suet cakes. The are the same size (about 4x4x1 inch) as the regular suet cakes and fit in the same little cage. Search Amazon for ‘suet dough’. There are many different mixes available – some with seeds, some with berries, etc.

  11. Lois Lindeman says

    No Melt suet is readily available at places like Home Depot and Lowes….it can also be bought at http://www.DrsFosterandSmith.com
    Altho I do switch to the No Melt when the weather gets warm (I’m not sure what makes it “no melt”) I also enjoy making new combos posted, especially in the winter months. A recipe would be GREAT …..help us make more of it and cut costs too !!

  12. mary says

    I have never heard of the dough either. would love to know what is in it and how to make it. anyone know?

  13. Jodi says

    Ladies I did some calling around and “dough” is the no melt suet. Looks pretty much the same and sold right along side the normal lard suet. The difference is that is thicker, drier, not as greasy and based with something like corn.

  14. Carolyn Hinman says

    The main ingredient in no-melt dough is rendered beef suet. I get beef suet from the butcher, grind it in my food processor, melt and strain it. Sometimes I let it harden and melt it again to make it more solid. Then I melt it and add peanut butter, corn meal and oats. Bluebirds, woodpeckers, wrens, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees and cardinals all love it.

  15. marcia mackay says

    Nice article but I expected to see a recipe for the no melt dough. Can you add one so we can try it?

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