Can Chickens Eat Onions?

There is an array of foods that chickens can eat. We are fond of feeding kitchen scraps and left overs to our chickens without regarding whether it is safe or not. So, can chickens eat onions?

Not everything you toss to your feathered friends is healthy for them. In some instances, we lose our chicken without knowing the cause because of some of the things we give to them as food.

Maybe it is what you fed them thinking all was food. Some foods we eat are only safe for us; take a case of butter and oils. Anything that is not the main course should be fed sparingly and in moderation otherwise, it can be disastrous.

Treats are one of the best chicken gifts we often use to entice our birds and make them happy. They are good because they help supplement their diets with extra nutrients. Additionally, tossing tasty treats to chickens helps prevent food loss especially during periods of abundance.

In this article, I am going to tell you everything you need to know between chickens and onions. This will help you know whether onions are are good for your chickens or not.

So, can chickens eat onions?

Yes! Chickens can eat onions in moderation as a treat but not as the main course. Both raw and cooked onions can be fed to them once in a while to supplement their diet with wonderful oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Onions should be fed in small amounts and chickens should never be forced to eat them. Do not stop feeding your chickens the crumbles and pellets you feed to them because you realized they can eat onions.

Not all chickens will like the strong smell of onions especially when they are raw. Too much onions and garlic are known to affect the flavor of the eggs. However, chickens have their own tastes and preferences just like we do. So do not be surprised if some of the hens don’t eat them.

Can chickens eat onion peels?

Yes! Chickens will eat onion peels together with other parts if you give them. They will probably not like the strong onion smell especially when raw.

If you want them to enjoy this treat, boil it in plain water. Do not add any oil or butter because the digestive system of chickens can’t handle them.

They do not need salt too because it may cause damage to their kidneys. Remove the cooked onions and mix them with others treats like blackberries and asparagus or chopped celery.

You can also add the cooked onions to the chicken feeds and mash them. This way chickens will enjoy the onions because when cooked, they do not have the strong flavor.

Red or green onions are good for chickens to eat. They can either be cooked or roasted by grilling them. Boil them in plain water and do not add any oil, butter or salt.

However, chickens will only eat the fresh succulent onion peels and not the dry ones. Do not forget to chop the peels in small bite seized pieces. This will help prevent choking which can kill your chickens.

Can onions be toxic to chicken?

Most chickens will not like onions. Some will not eat them at all because they are laden with strong flavors that these birds may find unpleasant to them.

Feeding too much onion to chickens can pose a health risk. Excess onions will cause a condition known as Hemolytic Anemia. This is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are made. (Source).

Red blood cells are very useful in the bodies of chickens because they help transport oxygen to all the body tissues.

Even if your chickens enjoy eating onions, don’t be duped by their appetite and feed them more than it is required. Toss to them once in a while and in moderation. If they don’t like onions, stop feeding and switch to other healthy chicken treats.

How many onions should chickens eat?

Onions are treats to chickens and not their staple diet. The general rule of thumb states that treats should never exceed 10% of the total chickens diet. This means that onions should be fed to chickens sparingly and in moderation.

My hens do not like them and am forced to toss chicken scratch instead. However, my Rouen ducks will eat them cooked and mashed. If your chickens do enjoy eating onions, do not let them eat too much.

Onions do not have all the nutrients these birds require in their bodies. Feeding them in excess can lead to malnutrition or other health complications.

Can baby chickens eat onions?

Baby chicks should not eat onions because they are not the right food for these little critters. Remember they are hound and their digestive systems are not fully formed to digest treats.

Chicks require a diet rich in protein at the rate of 22-24%. This is why these birds are fed on chick starter feeds because they are protein rich. Wait until the chicks are 8 weeks old and out of the brooder before you introduce treats to them.

What foods are toxic to chickens?

There are several things that are not good for chickens to eat and when fed they can lead to I’ll health or death. They include:

Fruit seeds and pits

Some fruit seeds like avocado, grapes and apples, pits of fruits like plum, peaches, cherry, apricots and pear contain a chemical substance called cyanide that can kill your birds.

When feeding the above fruits, always make sure that the pits and seeds have been removed. This will help prevent death or sick birds.

However, not all fruit seeds are bad for chickens. Some seeds are good when swallowed and chickens will help disperse them to germinate in other areas when excreted together with droppings.


Members of the nightshade family should never be fed to chickens. Nightshades include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, chili and bell pepper.

The plants themselves contain solanine an alkaloid that is toxic to chickens. Ripe tomatoes and cooked potatoes are good for chickens. But potato peels, green tomatoes and the entire plant is very harmful.

Dairy products

Dairy products include milk and all the products made from it like yoghurt, ghee, butter and whole milk.

I have not mentioned cheese because it can be fed sparingly to chickens as a treat. The above dairy products are not meant for chickens because their digestive system cannot handle them. Feeding them to chickens can cause diarrhea leading to dehydration or death.

Raw meat

Feeding raw meat to chickens can lead them to turn into cannibalism. This is when chickens start pecking on each other because of the rae taste of blood. Additionally, raw meat can lead to salmonella poisoning which can be deadly to your birds.

However, cooked meat can be fed to them in moderation as a treat. Chop the chunks of meat into small pieces easy for your birds to swallow. Remember chickens do not have teeth and will swallow most of their foods whole. Don’t choke them with large pieces of meat. Also, remove any excess fats from the meat before feeding.

Junk foods

Can chickens eat pizza?

Most left over junk foods ends up being fed to chickens or other animals like dogs and cats. What most people do not know is that they contain too much oils and salt which is not good for chickens. Take a case of chips and pizza.

These foods should be fed in moderation or even not fed at all. They have very little nutritional value and will make chickens overweight and obese. Obese chickens are prone to health problems and cannot run to flee for safety when chased by predators like chicken hawks.


Chickens can eat onions in moderation as a treat. This does not mean that onions should replace their main course just because you found out they can eat them.

If your chickens don’t like onions, do not force them to eat. Not every chicken will tolerate the strong smell of raw onions. Instead, there are other healthy treats for these birds.

If you have enough space on your backyard, allow them out to range and forage. This will help bring down the cost of feeding them and control insect pests and weeds.

Do your chickens eat onions? Talk to us on the comment section.

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