A wonderfully helpful guest post on how to make reindeer food that’s 100% safe for birds and small animals, by Ginny Reid from the RSPCA …
It’s that time of year when Santa’s reindeer and looking after Britain’s wildlife are very much on our minds at the RSPCA.
Every Christmas Eve, Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and their reindeer friends work so hard delivering gifts to every good girl and boy. And we believe that rewarding them with some nourishing food is a lovely way of saying thank you to them.
But we do need to be careful what we leave out for them.
Some commercial ‘Reindeer Food’ may contain dangerous plastic and foil glitter as well as oats. If this type of food is eaten by hungry garden birds or mammals it could cause long-term damage to their digestive system. Not even food that is described as containing ‘edible glitter’ is safe for them.
So we have some special, delicious recipes which can be left outside for Rudolph and his friends which can also be enjoyed safely by the wildlife in people’s gardens.
The RSPCA’s reindeer food mix and reindeer cookie recipes are glitter-free , and require only simple store cupboard ingredients.
And they’re easy to make with the kids!
RSPCA’s reindeer cookie recipe
- 250g lard or suet (vegetable shortening works just as well too)
- 500g wild bird seed mix (which may include sunflower hearts, naked rolled oats, dried mealworms, yellow millet, kibbled peanuts and black sunflower seeds)
- A handful of dried cranberries or other dried fruit (optional – remember that some dried fruit can be poisonous for dogs).
You’ll also need a saucepan, a spoon for mixing, a lined baking tray and some Christmas shaped cookie cutters (plastic cutters work better for this).
- Melt the lard or suet in a saucepan over a low heat, but don’t let it boil
- When melted, carefully add the wild bird seed mix and stir it in, ensuring it all sticks together well
- When mixed, leave to one side for 10 minutes so it starts to set
- Whilst still soft, spoon into the lined baking tray. Ensure it’s evenly spread and at least 2cm deep throughout. Put the baking tray in the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes
- Remove from the fridge and lift the mixture out of the baking tray on the greaseproof paper. You should have a fairly solid slab
- Use your cookie cutters to cut out your reindeer cookies (if you have any leftover bits you could crumble them up and put them out for the garden birds to enjoy)
- Leave them to cool, ideally in the fridge overnight
- Once set, they’re ready to be put outside for Rudolph! You can either leave them on a bird table, or perhaps hang them from a tree by tying some natural string around them.
RSPCA’s reindeer food trail mix recipe:
- A handful of wild bird seed (which may include sunflower hearts, naked rolled oats, dried mealworms, yellow millet, kibbled peanuts and black sunflower seeds) – this is what helps the reindeers fly!
- A few rolled oats
- Some dried fruit, like cranberries (if you have a dog, please don’t use grapes, raisins, sultanas or currants as these can be poisonous for dogs)
- Some dried insects – Rudolph and his bird friends love mealworms and waxworms
- Some grated cheese
- A hint of chilli powder – it helps keep Rudolph’s nose glowing red! Don’t worry, birds can’t taste it but it will stop squirrels and rodents from stealing the food before Rudolph arrives..
Mix it all together, then sprinkle it on your lawn, put on a bird table or leave it in a bowl by your front door just before you go to bed.
There are plenty of other ways to help wildlife this winter on the RSPCA website, and why not take a look at the cool stuff in their Christmas catalogue.
Thank you so much to Ginny Reid from the RSPCA for this wonderfully helpful guest post.
You may like to see our other Christmas Activities.
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