Can Chickens Eat Onions?

Can Chickens Eat Onions Featured Image
Chickens can eat both raw and cooked onions, but dried onion skin poses a chocking hazard. Onions can be toxic to other poultry you may have, such as geese.

Onions bring incredible flavor to culinary creations around the world and are considered a healthy addition to a human’s diet. As such, onions are a pantry staple and are one of the only vegetables to have an incredibly long shelf-life, remaining edible for months.

This makes onions one of the most likely vegetables given to those who are raising chickens, either for eggs or as broilers.

Chicken owners often provide onions to their chickens, throwing them table scraps out of the edible parts of the onion that go unused as a treat. But is it safe?

You’re about to discover what parts of the onion are safe for chickens to eat and different ways of preparing onion for your backyard chickens. Most importantly, you’ll discover the health benefits and potential dangers that onions have when added to your chicken’s diet.

Is it Safe for Chickens to Eat Onions?

Onions are toxic to certain types of poultry such as geese. The good news is that chickens are able to safely eat onions despite a long-standing myth that says otherwise.

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flock of chickens eating onions
Onions can be served alongside other vegetables

Onions in large amounts can be dangerous. Onions are safe when provided in small quantities to your chickens, and only occasionally.

You want to ensure that your chickens are fed a balanced diet with enough protein, carbs, and all of the vitamins and minerals that they need to function, without providing too much of any of them.

Sadly, sulfur compounds exist in onions, and these compounds are dangerous for chickens because they can affect the function of red blood cells and lead to hemolytic anemia (Heinz anemia). That is why it is so critical to only feed onion in small amounts, and never on a daily basis.

The amount of onion you provide is critical, whether in one sitting or over the course of several days. If you overfeed your chickens you may notice any or all of the following:

  1. Acting oddly
  2. Struggling to breathe normally
  3. Having diarrhea and not wanting to eat
  4. Exhibiting signs of bloat

These are all indicators of poisoning and you should take your chickens to a veterinarian immediately.

What Parts of the Onion are Okay to Feed to Chickens?

Some parts of an onion should not be fed to chickens – namely the green tip of the onion plant which offers no health benefits and should always be discarded. However, green onions (chives) are okay to offer to chickens.

The bulb of the onion is also fine for chickens to eat but dried onion skin should not be given to chickens as it poses a choking hazard.

How Much Onion Should You Feed Your Chickens?

There is no set rule for how much onion you should feed your chickens because onions are not required as part of a chicken’s diet

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If you want to feed your chickens onions, you can give it to them occasionally (once a week or so) in small amounts. The suggested serving amount is 1 tsp per chicken.

Can Chickens Eat Raw Onion?

Chickens can eat raw onions in small quantities. Raw onions should be diced before being offered to your flock.

person chopping onions on chopping board
While definitely time-consuming (and makes for watery eyes!), it’s still best to dice the onions for your chickens

You can even mix raw onion with other table scraps to help limit the quantity of onion you give to your chickens, while still giving them access to the nutrition that onions provide.

Can Chickens Eat Cooked Onion?

Yes, absolutely! However, chickens should avoid things like fried onion rings or onion chips which are fatty foods (containing lipids) and processed. Chickens cannot digest fat the way humans can.

Roasted onions and boiled or steamed onions are fine for chickens to have, provided fat is not used in the cooking process and they are cut into small pieces.

Some people will add cooked onions to lettuce and unsalted nuts, and make an “onion trail mix” that they give to their chickens as a healthy treat. You can substitute in any chicken-safe healthy veggies or fruits such as tomatoes or cucumbers that you happen to have on hand.

Can Feeding Chickens Onions Affect Their Eggs?

A chicken’s eggs may have an onion-like smell if they eat a lot of onions.

The taste of the egg may similarly be affected and someone eating the egg may be able to detect a light onion flavor, especially if onions are a regular part of your chicken’s diet.

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What Health Benefits do Onions Offer for Chickens?

Onions provide numerous health benefits to chickens and are a wonderful source of antioxidants, including vitamin b6, vitamin C, folate, fructans, calcium, and potassium.

Onions help with regulating a chicken’s blood sugar level, bone health, colon health, and even keeping a chicken’s gut health in check.

Christina

A longtime resident of Southern California, Christina recently moved across the globe to Austria, where she bought land specifically to build a small house with room for a backyard chicken coop. Christina spent her childhood summers on a farm, raising and caring for a flock of hens owned by her grandparents, which prompted a lifelong love of chickens, and other farm animals. Christina is passionate about writing, having written hundreds of articles for well-known websites, and uses her English degree in service of her love for animal welfare, most recently taking on a writing position at Chicken Care Taker in 2022.

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