Can Chickens Eat Onions? Benefits & Nutrition Facts

Yes, chickens can eat onions, but only in moderation. Ideally, chickens can eat almost anything they come across. They are even considered the farming world’s veritable garbage disposal. Even so, as experienced and reasonable chicken keepers, it is advisable to offer them foods that are safe for consumption. And these foods include all table and kitchen scraps such as onions and others.

Chickens are able to eat all parts of an onion plant although some parts could be harmful. This is because most parts of an onion plant (bulb, stalk, and flowers) are entirely safe. When given in limited quantities, onions can really benefit your chickens. Here is everything you need to know about feeding your chickens onions.

Are Onions Safe For Chickens?

When it comes to feeding onions to the chickens, two opposing opinions become apparent. Some people are of the idea that onions are safe for chickens to eat while others are against this same idea.

However, there is no known scientific study that explains why onions are not good for chickens. Quite a number of chicken keepers and breeders support the idea of giving your chickens onions as part of their tasty treats. Some chickens may not like the taste of onions but others can enjoy this type of vegetable.

Experts believe that your chickens can benefit nutritionally from eating onions. This is attributed to the fact that onions have high levels of antioxidant values that are equally beneficial to the chickens.

Also, there are no reported cases of chickens dying or falling ill from eating onions. Therefore, this farm produce seems harmless when fed to chickens in small quantities. In this case, do not feed onions to your flock of chickens more than twice in one month.

This is to ensure that your birds do not experience adverse effects. Should your chickens display signs of adverse reactions, just stop giving them onions at once.

Benefits of Onions in Chickens

Onions are highly nutritious. They come loaded with different types of essential nutrients. So, the need to be aware of their nutritional value and health benefits to your birds should be your priority. This piece of information will help you make a sound decision when it comes to feeding your flock.

Here are some of the benefits that onions can provide to your chickens:

  • Onions are a rich source of sulfur-containing compounds as well as antioxidants. These two compounds play a significant role in decreasing blood sugar levels in your chickens. They also improve your chickens’ bone health.
  • Every 100 grams of raw onions has approximately 40 calories. This amount of onions also has up to 89% water and around 1.7 % fiber. The rest is fat and protein. All these nutrients keep your birds active, healthy, and productive.
  • Onions contain high levels of carbohydrates. Mostly, these carbs are available in the form of simple sugars. They can provide individual chickens with a lot of energy to stay active throughout the day. This is usually important to free-ranging chickens since they need extra energy to remain active while roaming the yard.
  • Since onions contain a substantial amount of fiber, they can help your birds with the digestion of other foods. The onion’s fiber consists of fructans which is a great source of fuel for microorganisms such as bacteria in the chicken’s gut. Fructans provide bacteria with enough energy to digest food.
  • Also, this source of fuel plays an active role in the production of vital short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital when it comes to maintaining your chickens’ colon health. They are also ideal for reducing inflammation just in case your birds experience cases of bloating. So, onions can substitute for vinegar as an effective remedy for bloating among chickens.
  • Typically, onions contain different types of vitamins and minerals that perform different functions in your chicken’s body. Available vitamins in onions include vitamins C and B6. Minerals consist of potassium and folate, all available in substantial quantities.
  • Both the minerals and vitamins work side by side with plant compounds such as anthocyanins, thiosulfate, quercetin, and sulfur compounds to keep your birds healthy. In general, onions are among the best and healthiest treats for chickens.

Does Feeding Onions Affect Egg Taste?

Time and again, debates about the effect of onions on eggs have taken place in several backyard chicken keepers forums. Most owners believe that when chickens consume onions even in small amounts, their effect can be felt in eggs.

They argue that onions influence the taste of eggs. Some owners admit to not being able to taste any difference in their chickens’ eggs even after the layers have eaten onions. Indeed, eggs laid by chickens that eat onions taste different from those that eat other types of chicken feed. Usually, the taste in such eggs is nothing similar to that of onions.

How Much Onion Can Chickens Eat?

Up to this moment, no one has come forward to state clearly how much onions chickens should be fed. What is known so far is that onions, just like other types of treats, must be given to chickens in small quantities.

Bear in mind that giving your birds too many onions can be harmful to them. Onions should always remain a no-go zone for chicks and all other young chickens. The delicate nature of your young chickens’ digestive system and weak immune system are the main reasons for not feeding them onions.

What Happens if Chickens Eat Too Many Onions?

As you all know, too much of something can turn out to be harmful. So, if your chickens eat onions in large amounts, they are likely to experience digestive problems. Worse still, sulfides and sulfoxides in this product can contribute to cases of anemia also known as Heinz body anemia in other animals.

Apparently, there are no scientific findings on the issues of onions causing anemia in chickens. However, the green stems at the top of the onion bulb are somehow stringy. So, they can possibly cause choking when your chickens eat them. The good news is that your birds may not eat this part of an onion.

Fried onion rings may not be a good option for your birds. Chickens are not able to digest lipids found in fatty foods. This is the case when they are fed on large quantities of fried foods containing a lot of onions.

Are Spring Onions Good for Chickens?

Yes, chickens can eat spring onions or scallions, although some websites say, that it could be dangerous for chickens or birds in general. Chickens are omnivorous and they will anything you feed them, just make sure you give them a balanced diet.

Scallions are rich in vitamins such as vitamin C, B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin B3, and minerals such as carotenoids, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants, so it is healthy for chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Onion Skin?

Chickens are likely to eat onion skin if other foods are not available. Unfortunately, the onion skin is of no nutritional value to the chickens. So, this part should be discarded rather than fed to chickens. Apart from that, your chickens will experience some difficulties when eating or digesting the onion skin.

Is it Safe to Feed Rotten Onions to Chickens?

No, it is not safe for chickens to eat rotted onions. It is not a good idea in general to give your chickens spoilt foods. In this sense, rotten onions should be disposed of instead of feeding them to your birds.  Anything moldy or rotten can be detrimental to the well-being of your flock.

In some cases, your chickens may not even attempt to eat rotten food, including rotten onions. Rule of thumb states that any food that is unfit for human consumption is equally unfit for chickens, so keep your flock away from rotten or spoilt onions.


Even though onions may be toxic to a number of animals including the geese, cattle, and dogs, they are not harmful to chickens. Onions are safe when given to chickens in limited quantities. However, a lot of care should be applied every time you give your flock of chickens some onions to eat.

This type of treatment should not be fed to baby chickens or young chickens. Only adult chickens should be fed in moderation and sparingly.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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