Can Chickens Eat Onions? Safe or Toxic? [Benefits and Risks]

Sharing is caring!

Onions are a type of root vegetable that is popular in most dishes in culinary cooking and are usually cooked and eaten in a meal instead of being eaten raw.

For humans, onions are safe to eat and delicious, but what if you want to feed some to your backyard chickens; can chickens eat onions? 

Yes, chickens can eat onions because of their nutritional value, but they should be fed in moderation.

If you would like to learn more about providing your flock with onions, you will discover this and more in this article.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chickens can consume small amounts of onions on occasion.
  • Onions have exceptional nutritional value for chickens.
  • Overfeeding onions may have harmful effects on chickens due to a compound they produce that can cause hemolytic anemia.

Is It Healthy For Chickens To Eat Onions?

Onions can be healthy for chickens to eat. Onions are nutrient-dense, which means they are low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals.

different types of onions on one basket

According to research by Diya Al-Ramamneh, “Results from our investigation showed that onions improved chicken performance…and decreased body fatness, cholesterol, and intestinal lesion score.”

Below are some of the health benefits of onions if they are fed to adult chickens.

Loaded With Antioxidants

Onions are an excellent source of antioxidants and thus a healthy treat for chickens. Antioxidants are important because they help prevent free radicals from damaging cells. (1)

Free radicals are thought to cause cancer and other diseases, so antioxidants are exceptionally important for keeping your birds healthy.

Boost Bone Density

Bone health is very important for chickens. Strong bones allow chickens to forage for food, move about, and do other activities without any issues.

If chickens suffer from weak bones, more than likely, they will die due to not being able to feed or support themselves.

Feeding them onions, especially red onions, helps strengthen their bones. (2)

Improve Digestive Health

Onions are rich in fiber and prebiotics, both of which are needed for healthy digestive tracts and colon health.

Feeding onions as a chicken treat will help prevent constipation and promote normal bowel movement.

Other Health Benefits of Onions

Onions contain a lot of water, which is good for chickens’ hydration. Other positive effects of onions include decreasing blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation.

Are Onions Bad For Chickens?

Anecdotal evidence and a few research studies show that onions aren’t as dangerous to chickens as they are to dogs and cats and may not lead to a blood condition in chickens. (3)

In domestic animals like dogs and cats, the toxic substance that onions contain can destroy red blood cells and lead to hemolytic anemia (also known as Heinz anemia). 

Still, many chicken owners are cautious with onions and believe that it’s better not to provide onions to their chickens and to avoid potential toxins altogether. 

It is likely perfectly fine to feed onions to chickens in moderation as an occasional treat (up to 2 times per month), but it is up to you to decide your stance on this root vegetable.

A suggestion is to serve onion scraps amongst other chicken-safe, healthy veggies so they get the onion’s benefits but not too much at once.

Keep in mind that the onion bulb and onion peel can be eaten easily by chickens but they should not eat the onion plant (the part that grows above ground).

Do Onions Have an Effect on Egg Taste?

Hens that lay eggs and eat onions tend to lay eggs with an altered taste. Some people notice a difference in the taste of their eggs, while others don’t.

fresh brown eggs

If you are feeding onions to your hens, expect the eggs to have a more onion-like taste.

The onions won’t affect the quality of the eggs, just the taste of the eggs may be a bit different.

Are you interested in using thyme as a natural remedy for your chickens or wondering if they can eat pomegranates? Check out our informative articles on “Thyme for chickens” and “Can chickens eat pomegranates” to learn more about the benefits and potential risks of these foods for your feathered friends.

How Do You Feed Onions To Chickens?

All parts of the onion bulb are safe to feed chickens, but chickens should not eat the plant portion of an onion.

You can feed them the onion skins; however, they have limited amounts of nutrition and they’re tough to eat, so either cut up the onion skin or don’t feed them the skin.

lady peeling onions

Below are some of the ways you can feed onions to the chickens.

Raw Onions

You can try feeding them raw onions, but there is a chance they might not eat them because of the strong taste and smell.

Mixed With Their Feed

If the chickens don’t eat whole onions, you can try mixing them in with their feed. It’s best to dice them up into tiny pieces first before mixing them in with the feed. 

However, the strong smell of the onions may prevent them from eating them. If that’s the case, cook the onions first.

Cooked Onions

This is the recommended method for feeding onions to chickens.

When the onions are cooked, the process will get rid of the strong taste and smell. Therefore, the chickens will be more likely to eat them.

How Many Onions To Feed Chickens

When it comes to feeding onions to the chickens, you should feed them in moderation, no more than two times per month.

There are two reasons why feeding them this way is recommended. For one, onions don’t have the necessary nutrition to meet the chicken’s diet requirement.

Onions and other treats should make up 10% of their diet. The rest of a healthy chicken’s diet should come in the form of quality commercial chicken feed.

These feeds have been formulated with the right amount of nutrition to keep your chickens healthy when fed to chickens daily.

As discussed earlier, the second reason is that feeding excessive amounts of onions could be a danger to chickens and could cause adverse reactions like Heinz’s anemia.

Other Vegetables That Chickens Can Eat


Lettuce is great for chickens. Many chickens enjoy lettuce and can eat it easily.

There are many different varieties of lettuce available, one of them being iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is not very nutritious, but it does have a lot of water.

iceberg lettuce for chickens

During the summer months, when it usually gets very hot, feeding chickens iceberg lettuce will help to keep them hydrated.


Spinach is one of the healthiest foods on earth. This is due to the nutrient-rich content.

Spinach is high in fiber and an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and calcium.

These leafy greens benefit chickens greatly, and they tend to love eating spinach, as well.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is rich in nutrients and low in calories. This makes this squash an excellent treat to give chickens.

However, butternut squash is a starchy vegetable, which means it’s high in sugar. Feeding them butternut squash in moderation is recommended to avoid any health issues.


Cucumber is a good source of vitamin C and fiber while providing small amounts of vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and vitamin A.

fresh cucumbers on the chopping board

All the fruits and vegetables above should only be fed to chickens as treats. They do not have enough nutrition alone to meet chickens’ dietary requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can chickens eat onion rings?

Yes, chickens can eat onion rings as long as they are baked and not fried.
The oil onion rings are fried in could cause health issues for chickens. Chickens should not have fatty foods.

2. Can chickens eat onion soup?

It’s safe to feed onion soup to chickens. If you have onion soup for dinner, you can feed your flock the leftovers. Place the soup in a large bowl, and they’ll start to peck at it.


The answer to the question, “Can chickens eat onions?” is not straightforward. In short, chickens can eat the onion bulb, but there is a potential risk of health problems. 

Onions have been shown to cause hemolytic anemia in dogs and cats, but preliminary evidence shows that this same reaction may not happen in chickens. 

If you decide to feed your chickens onions, do so cautiously and in moderation, and do not feed the plant part of the onion to your chickens. 

big yellow onions for chickens


1. National Cancer Institute. Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention [Internet]. National Cancer Institute.; 2010. Available from:

‌2. Krieger E. For healthy bones: Got prunes? Onions? Salmon? Walnuts? Washington Post [Internet]. 2015 Jun 25; Available from:

3. Omer HAA, Ahmed SM, Abdel-Magid SS, El-Mallah GMH, Bakr AA, Abdel Fattah MM. Nutritional impact of inclusion of garlic (Allium sativum) and/or onion (Allium cepa L.) powder in laying hens’ diets on their performance, egg quality, and some blood constituents. Bulletin of the National Research Centre. 2019;43.


Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
Follow her on:
Read her latest articles HERE
Learn more about her HERE.

Leave a Comment