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Fat balls hanging up in single-use plastic mesh netting

How long do fat balls last

Rather than wait until the fat balls hanging up for garden birds to go bad, only give them a few days or more until you replace them with fresh ones to play it safe.

How long do fat balls last outdoors can be up to a week in winter if the expiry date allows it, but it can be several more days in cooler, dry conditions. Extreme heat can speed up the germination process, so only expect fat balls to last a few days under the summer heat, or a day longer if kept in shade.

Fat balls are extremely popular with our garden birds which is why you'll find they are for sale everywhere you look.

Its important than to offer this essential wild bird fatty food in the winter, which is perfect as the winter months will help fat balls last longer.

Check the expiry date of the fat balls as you may find them to last up to two years, but this is reduced to a couple of weeks once the packaging has been unsealed.

Birds love fat balls so you can expect them to gobble the fat balls up long before this cut off date.

To buy high quality fat balls is vital to maintain their shelf life, but the cheapest fat balls you can buy are just as likely to last long under better conditions.

To avoid fat balls going off so soon in the garden, keep out of heat under direct sunshine, but do expect them to go off under a long spell of poor weather conditions.

Depends on expiring date

Much like how people buy food to last the week ahead, you must be sure to look at the expiry date on the fat ball packaging.

Fat balls, as do all wild bird suet products, have an expiry date that must be taken seriously, or else you risk poisoning the garden birds.

More so, to buy suet fat balls with a short used-by-date would mean you were ripped off, so get your money back or hang the fat balls up right away so they are eaten ASAP.

My recent purchase of a fat ball bird feeder with 4 fat balls included, has a two year expire date on it - so I am sorted for the time being.

However, a month or a year long expiry date doesn't mean much, because as soon as fat balls are left outdoors, the clock quickly ticks down on their use.

Up to three days in summer shade

Providing its not a too hot summers day, I believe wild bird fat balls can be hung up in the garden for up to three days to maintain their freshness.

Longer if hung up in the summer shade on a bird feeder station or amongst a shaded tree - but not if its intense, summer heat.

Leaving out fat balls in direct sunshine during the summer can see the fat balls begin to germinate quite quickly, resulting in the fat balls becoming rancid, but still possible for birds to consume - making them poorly or something much worse.

To offer any wild bird suet feed in the garden, take care in the summer as the hot weather can reduce its life.

How long fat balls last in the summer can be weeks if we experience weeks of cool, chilly conditions with little to no heat in the sun.

One week in winter time

Offer up wild bird fat balls in the winter can certainly extend their life outdoors, as the cold weather can keep them in better condition, for longer.

Much the same as keeping food in the refrigerator, fat balls left out in the cold can make fat balls last up to a week or so.

It doesn't seem long but remember fat balls were once sealed in their container or packaging originally - so as soon has you opened them up and left them in the garden, of course they will soon go bad.

How long fat balls will be in the garden in the winter months can be a week or more then, but will be less if hung out under wet, frosty conditions.

Its important than, in summer or winter, to only feed fat balls to birds in your garden with the amount you believe they will consume over a short period, to avoid waste.

Examine fat ball mould growth

Continue to hang the same old fat balls up in your garden if its a busy one, as I am sure the tasty fat balls will soon get gobbled up.

But you can turn detective if you want as you examine the fat balls up close.

Not for the fun of it mind as you'd be looking out for the potential for mould to be seen, with only a spec of green indicating the fat balls have gone mouldy.

Any mould seen on fat balls must be removed and discarded, as its can make birds ill.

But to see garden birds not eat your fat balls might be the reason if mould is visible, as birds know a bad food source when they see one.

Never touch the fat balls or the fat ball feeder itself, as you'd need to walk about the fat balls hands free - with a careful look at them all in close proximity.

I don't recommend smelling fat balls because if it has indeed gone mouldy, you won't want to be on the receiving end.

Change of texture or smell

I can't recommend you getting a real feel of your fat balls enough when first bought, as to know what to look for when they do indeed change colour or texture.

Smelling a fat ball that has gone rancid while out in the garden is probably not needed, and not recommended - but there is other tail-tell signs of a rancid fat ball or two.

But remember, if the one fat ball has gone bad then they all have, so don't hesitate in removing them all in one go.

To buy a bulk buy tub or pack of fat balls, to feel them you would know they are quite hard to touch. But to leave them outdoors for a while would see them go soft, but this isn't an indication of how much time fat balls have left.

Its more to do with the texture beginning to look a bit worse for wear, but how is the colouring.

Now a bad fat ball won't necessary go a different colour if past its best, but it would be a more bland colour while maintaining its full roundedness.

To conclude how long fat balls last

Depending on what the weather is doing, I believe fat balls left out in summer would last only a few days in extreme heat, or up to a week in winter.

It can depend on harsh, wet or humid conditions that can shorten the lifespan of fat balls for wild birds, but you must make that decision yourself.

Become an expert of when bird food has gone bad by examining the fat balls as they are hung up on a bird feeding station or wall bracket, whilst inside of a fat ball feeder.

To know its gone bad would be a nasty smell at a distance, but that would be a result of the mould clearly seen on the surface.

If you only see a spot of green mould on one fat ball, then throw them all away.

How long do fat balls last can depend hugely on what the weather is doing, so as a rule of thumb - the cooler, more dryer it is - fat balls are sure to last up to a week.

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