Chickens can consume moderate amounts of chia seeds and spices like cinnamon, but how about onions? Can chickens eat onions?
The answer is YES! But this aromatic herb contains traces of sulfur, so while it’s perfectly safe for humans, there are several things to consider before feeding them to your flock.
So, in this article, we’ll discuss:
- If chickens can eat onions, and their top, flower, stem, seeds
- How to prepare onions
- And how much to feed to avoid adverse health effects
So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Can Chickens Eat Onions?
Onions are a staple in everyone’s kitchen; their sweet, savory, and pungent flavor levels up any dish.
But in the animal world, feeding onions can cause severe problems in most household pets like dogs and cats. How about chickens? Can chickens have onions?
Onions are safe for flocks if they don’t consume more than 0.5% of their body weight. Though onions have few toxic compounds, they don’t harm chickens when fed below the toxic dose. In fact, it has a couple of beneficial compounds.
But let’s dig into it to ensure you avoid adverse health effects.
Can Hens Eat Onions?
Hens can eat onions, even during their laying period. But what will happen to their eggs if hens eat onions?
If you feed onions to a laying hen as a treat, its eggs will smell like an onion.
It happens because of the sulfur content of onions. It might smell good, especially if you love onions.
However, this compound will also make the eggs rotten, so it would be better not to feed them with onions to avoid that.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Onions?
Chicks can also have a tiny peck of it. However, too much consumption can negatively affect their digestive system, so keeping the onions away from them is best.
Can Chickens Eat Raw Onions?
Raw onions contain sulfoxides, and sulfide content can cause Heinz body anemia, destroying animals’ red blood cells. Furthermore, it has a strong, pungent smell that puts chickens off.
If you want to try how chickens would find raw onion taste, slice them into tiny pieces. A tiny peck at onions will not hurt them, but ingesting more than 0.5% of their body weight can be problematic.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Onions?
The best way of feeding onions to your flocks is by cooking them. Why? Because when onions interact with heat, it reduces the harmful substance making them safer to eat.
What are the Edible Parts of Onions?
In this section, let’s discuss the edible parts of onions for chickens.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Tops?
The onion tops are a cylindrical shape that serves as their leaves. It is the one that grows above the onion’s flesh over the soil.
This part can also be called scallions in green or spring onions, which are also edible for humans.
But can chickens eat onion tops or scallion? The short answer is it’s unsafe for your flocks.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Flower?
The flower of onions grows at the tip of its scallions, and some types of onions produce flowers seasonally.
Some people eat the onion flower, while others don’t; it depends on what you are used to. But can chickens eat onion flowers?
No cases where chickens are reportedly got serious problems after eating onion flowers.
But it’s better not to feed them at all. Besides, if the taste does not suit their preferences, they won’t love it and will ignore it after having one bite.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Seeds?
The seeds of onions come from their flowers. If you have planted onions in your backyard, your chickens might pick them up while foraging. But can chickens eat onion seeds?
Luckily you don’t need to worry much because onion seeds are harmless as long as they won’t have too much.
On the contrary, a study conducted in 2017 concluded that the chicken’s manure helps with the overall growth of onions, especially in producing seeds.
So, letting your flock forage around your onion plants is helpful.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Flesh?
The flesh of an onion is called a bulb, the tastiest edible part of an onion plant, and typically has a different shape and many layers connected to its leaves or scallion.
The bulb grows below the ground, and all species of onion have bulbs, but spring onions produce bulbs when they mature and are usually harvested before the bulb grows.
If the bulbs are edible for humans, can chickens eat onion flesh? Yes. It is the part of the onion with many nutritional contents, but too much can also cause poisoning.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Skins?
The skin or peel of onions is the bulb’s thin and translucent outer layer. It looks like the dry skin of the onion. Usually, this peel is removed, and only the fresh flesh or bulb is used in cooking.
But can chickens eat onion skins? Yes, but the peels have little nutritional benefits and are often ignored when fed to chickens.
So, if you’re feeding onions to them, it depends on whether you remove the peels.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Stems?
If you cut the onion, the white part at the bottom of the bulb is the stem. But can chickens have onion stems?
There are no reports that it is harmful, so you can try feeding your chickens with stem, but keep it minimal.
Can Chickens Eat Onion Roots?
The roots are the thin, hairy, and fibrous part of an onion responsible for absorbing water and nutrients for the overall growth of the onion.
But can chickens eat onion roots? The answer is unclear because usually, only the bulb is edible. But as the old saying says, prevention is better than cure.
So, it’s best to avoid these parts for safety purposes.
What are the Types of Onions?
There are six types of onions, each with its own flavor. Let’s discuss each to know what kind of onion is good for your flocks.
The yellow onion has a slightly white and yellow color bulb and often has brown peels. Mostly, it is the all-around onion used in cooking different recipes.
It is dry and has a strong flavor among other onions. However, it also contains higher sulfur, which is harmful to your flocks, so feeding them to your chickens is not advisable.
The red onion is the most appealing kind of onion. It has white flesh coated with red and purplish-red skin or peels.
When eaten raw, you can feel a crunchy, sweet, pungent, and slightly spicy flavor. But, compared to the yellow one, it has a milder flavor and lower sulfur content, so your chickens can eat a little bit.
White onion is white to yellow and has a sweet and milder flavor than red and yellow. It is sometimes thought of as the same as yellow, but they differ in flavor.
It is also low in sulfur content but high in sugar. The sugar level can’t harm chickens, but it’s not good for them either.
Like white onions, sweet onions have a milder and sweet flavor, white and yellow skin color, and are high in sugar and low sulfur levels. However, the difference is that the sweet onion has higher water content.
The popular varieties of sweet onions are Walla Wallas, Vidalias, and Mauis. These onions are the best when eaten raw and mixed with salads.
Shallot is the smallest and most botanical version of onion. It often has a pointed tip and bottom bulb. Its peel and flesh color is the same as the red onions.
It is also mild in flavor and has a tender texture. That’s why it’s often used in making vinaigrettes and sauces.
However, it is rich in sulfur. Though chickens can eat them, it would be harmful if taken too much. So, it’s better to feed them moderately and in very small amounts, not exceeding 0.5% of their body weight.
Scallions are often called green or spring onions. It is the only type of onion with edible leaves and is often used as a topping for most dishes and served raw.
This onion has two-tone colors, white below and green above. It also has a mild, spicy, and pepper-like flavor. It makes recipes fragrance and delicious.
So, can chickens eat green onions?
Among all types of onions, scallions have almost all types of sulfur, such as sulfides, thiosulfates, sulfoxides, and ajoenes. So, they’re harmful to chickens.
What Kind of Onion is Good for Chicken?
Based on the information above, all kinds of onions have sulfur content which is toxic to chickens. But most of their bulb is safe for chickens, except when taken below the toxic dose, except for the scallions.
Can I Give my Chickens Onion Water?
Onion water is not a popular way of taking the nutritional benefits of onions. Others claim it helps our body somehow, but there’s no proper evidence about it.
But soaking the onions in water might lessen their sulfur content so that they might be harmless for your chickens.
It is not a proven claim, but whether you soak it with water to make onion water or serve it raw directly to your flocks depends on you.
What Are the Benefits of Onions in Chickens?
Onions aren’t just spices that would make a recipe delicious, but they also contain essential nutrients for your chickens.
Did you know that onions consist of 84% water, 40 mg calcium, 60 mg phosphorus, and 1.8 g of proteins?
The high water level of onions will highly help your flocks keep hydrated.
Calcium, phosphorus, and proteins play a big part in their overall growth, improving the functions of their organ systems and egg production.
It also has many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and K, manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, and folate.
These elements are good for lessening inflammation, decreasing blood sugar levels, and improving your chickens’ colon and bone health.
Additionally, it has carbohydrates and fats that are essential for improving their energy levels. That’s how beneficial onions are to your flocks.
How to Prepare Onions for Your Chickens?
There are several ways to feed onions to your chickens. The first way is the easiest. Slicing it into pieces and directly giving in to them. The other way is cooking it on your stove.
So, below are some onion recipes that your chickens might love.
First is roasting or grilling the onion over the heat of a fire or oven. The heat will soften the onion, which will benefit your flocks.
Onion Trail Mix
Since onions are not as tasty as chickens feed, they might enjoy it if you mix them with their feed or other treats like vegetables and fruits.
Just boil the onions to make them tender before slicing them into small pieces.
Remember to cool them before serving.
Mash and Mixed with Scraps
Mashed or crushed onions are easy to digest for your little critters. Then please mix it with some food scraps from your kitchen. They will surely love it.
How Many Onions Should You Feed Your Chickens?
As mentioned above, there are risks in feeding onions to your flocks because of the sulfur content, which is harmful to them. This compound can cause serious illnesses like anemia.
That’s why they should not ingest more than 0.5% of their body weight.
How Often Should You Feed Onions to Chickens?
Onions are packed with many nutrients but also have several risks. So we recommend limiting the frequency of your chickens’ onion consumption to once a week.
It should be enough to give a little boost to their nutrition and supplement their feed.
When Can’t Chickens Eat Onions?
Just like other foods and treats, giving your chickens too many onions can be dangerous and life-threatening.
So if you don’t follow the serving suggestions for onions, you are risking your chickens’ lives.
So, when can’t chickens eat onions? If you’ve fed them above the toxic dose.
What is the Use of Onions in Poultry?
Onions are also beneficial for the poultry industry. After many years of research, it was discovered that onions, even garlic, can boost chickens’ growth and meat quality.
Here is the benefit of this veggie in poultry.
It Improves Chicken’s Weight and Meat Quality
One of the research determined how onions affect chickens. The study aims to determine the effects of garlic and onion on carcass yield, body weight, and feeding expenses.
The study showed that chickens given doses of 50 and 100 mg of garlic and onion gained weight.
Additionally, 100 mg of onions causes the chickens to consume more food and water. At the end of the 21-day trial period, the study stated that the chickens who ingested 25 and 50 mg reduced the feeding expense of the treated flock.
Overall, all of the treated flock’s feed conversion ratios showed improvement. And the development of the flock that ate onions was better.
The yield of chicken carcasses was unaffected by the garlic and onion treatments. According to the study’s findings, garlic and onion help poultry operate more productively.
But more research is required to confirm the right dosage, subjects’ ages, and other ideal circumstances to obtain the best outcomes for onion impacts on chickens.
Drawbacks of Onions
Another study conducted in 2001 further supports the idea that chickens that eat onions will produce eggs that taste like the herb.
The flavor and scent of the hens’ eggs will likewise be similar to onions. Regardless of the conflicting findings of the research, onions are harmless for hens if eaten in moderation.
Final Recap: Can Chickens Eat Onions?
In summary, chickens can eat onions but in moderation. Both hens and chicks can have a little bit of onion, but their consumption must not exceed 0.5% of their weight.
Too much sulfur from raw onions can lead to digestive issues and onion toxicosis. So, they’re better served as cooked because it reduces the amount of sulfur.
The top or scallion is dangerous, and although there are no reports about the effects of eating stems, roots, and flowers on chickens, it’s best to avoid them.
Onion intake can help boost chicken’s meat quality, though. However, since it might influence their eggs’ taste, weighing in before feeding them to your laying hens first is essential.
How about you? Have you ever tried feeding your chickens with onions? Let us know your experiences in the comment section below.