Can Goats Eat Onions?

Spring has sprung, and your goats are looking for something new to eat! That’s when you remember that bumper crop of onions from last fall, but many people wonder if their goats can eat them. 

Can goats eat onion? Onions are not a part of a healthy diet for goats. While goats can eat small amounts of onion without being harmed by it, large amounts will prove fatal for them. Spring onions are less harmful to goats than regular onions.

Goats can eat onions in small amounts as certain oils in them are good for their digestive system, Moreover onions contain vitamin C and chromium. However, goats should not be fed lots of onions it can cause onion poisoning in them which can be fatal when untreated.

Humans have been using onions both for culinary as well as medicinal purposes for thousands of years. These root vegetables are highly nutritious, are rich in antioxidants, and have anti-bacterial properties. Moreover, they are also known to support our bone density and boost our digestive health.

But when it comes to goats, do onions offer them the same benefits? That’s what we will talk about today.

This article will cover all grounds of feeding onions to goats: their health benefits, problems with overfeeding, practicing moderation, and more.

The nutritional value of onions

Before we delve right into our central question, let us ask you this? How much do you know about onions? While we have often heard that they have many healthy properties, do we really know what onions contain?

Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to it; we’re here to help you.

Below is a table of onion’s nutritional composition, giving you a better understanding of its nutritional value. Take a look:

Vitamin A3 IU
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)0.2 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)28.5 mcg
Vitamin C11.8 mg
Calcium, Ca34 mg
Magnesium, Mg15 mg
Iron, Fe0.31 mg
Potassium, K190 mg
Phosphorus, P43.5 mg
Zinc, Zn0.3 mg
Manganese, Mn0.2 mcg
Copper, Cu0.1 mg
Selenium, Se0.7 mcg
Sodium, Na5 mg
Total carbohydrates11 g
Dietary fibers3 g
Sugar9 g
Protein1 g
Calories45 kcal

Serving size: 1 medium-sized onion (148 grams)

Can goats benefit from eating onions?

After going through the nutritional table of onions, we are now ready to learn about the advantages they can offer to your pet ruminants.

  • Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining the epithelial health of the goats, boosting their reproductive system, and protecting their respiratory system from all kinds of infections.
  • Vitamin C stimulates leucocytes and is involved in the formation of antibodies in your goats. Moreover, it also plays a key role in their wound healing process and produces healthy mucous membranes.
  • Goats need Calcium for the smooth functioning of their enzyme activities, cardiovascular and nervous functions, and muscle contraction. If they’re not consuming Calcium-rich food, they are at the risk of suffering from Rachitis and Posterior Paralysis. Poor growth, stiff gait, and swollen joints are also a result of Calcium deficiency in their body. In pregnant goats, the deficiency of these minerals also leads to milk fever.
  • Magnesium is vital in the process of carbohydrate metabolism. The symptoms of its deficiency are similar to that of Calcium, such as a staggering gait.
  • Iron is present in the hemoglobin of their red blood cells, which is why its deficiency can lead to Anemia in goats. It is also essential in their cell respiration, as it transports oxygen in their blood.
  • Phosphorus is an important constituent of goats’ enzymes and genetic materials. Moreover, it has two vital functions in their body: maintaining the acid-base balance and supporting energy metabolism. Some of the Phosphorus-deficiency symptoms in goats are listlessness, reduced growth, depressed fertility, decreased appetite, and the tendency of eating wood, rocks, and bones.
  • Zinc plays a key role in protein synthesis and is also effective in stress management. Its deficiency can cause Parakeratosis in goats.
  • Manganese protects them from skeletal abnormalities and is also said to be responsible for the health of their babies. The deficiency of Manganese, particularly in pregnant goats, often results in irregular oestrus, poor conception, and still-born kids.
  • Selenium is essential in forming Glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that protects tissue from oxidative damage.
  • Onions are rich in antioxidants to boost your pet’s immune health and have anti-inflammatory properties that protect them against all inflammatory diseases.
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Risks involved with feeding onion to goats

After going through the benefits of eating onion for your pets in the previous section, you must be wondering why we recommend you not to feed it to them.

If you’re interested in learning about the problems with feeding onions to goats, keep reading.

Onion toxicosis

Onions and all the other vegetables belonging to the Allium genus (garlic, chives, leeks) contain many organic compounds like n-propyl disulfide, SPCO, and SMCO.

All these sulfides have a strong hemolytic capability and can destroy the red blood cells of animals faster than they can produce them. This leads to the condition of Haemolytic Anemia in them.

Animals like cats, dogs, cows, horses, buffaloes, sheep, and goats are all vulnerable to this disease, but the intensity varies in different species. While cats, dogs, and horses can suffer from onion toxicity even after eating a single onion, sheep and goats are more resistant to it (sheep more than goats).

Other factors that can influence the effect of onion toxicosis on animals are:

  • Age of the animal (younger animals are more vulnerable to it than adults).
  • The number of onions consumed by them.

Onion can impact the quality of milk

Another issue with goats, particularly the pregnant or mother goats, eating onion is the flavor it adds to their milk.

While this has almost no effect on the mother, when the kid drinks flavored milk, it can take a toll on their fragile health, even killing them in some cases.

Practicing caution

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Because of all the health problems your pet ruminants can suffer from by eating onions, we would strongly suggest you not feed it to them at all.

However, if you want to feed them onions, you must do so in strict moderation; feed not more than 1 medium-sized onion to an adult goat once a month.

Moreover, You shouldn’t feed onions to pregnant goats, goats with kids feeding on them, and younger goats in any case.

Is it safe to feed spring onion to goats?

While it is clear that onions are not safe for goats, what about spring onions? Can goats eat these?

Spring onions are members of the same family as regular onions; only their bulbs are smaller, with edible, tube-like leaves attached to their heads. Although there is no scientific evidence to back it up, many goat owners have claimed that they have fed these onions to their goats and found them 30% safer than regular onions.

If you’re willing to trust these reviews, you might try to feed spring onions to your goats. However, not feeding them any onions altogether is a much safer choice.

How can you tell the difference between onions and goat-safe spring onions? Just look at the leaves; spring onions have rounded leaves and resemble wild garlic. Regular onions have straighter leaves and grow in a bulb underground. Also, regular onions are much larger than spring onions and have a smell that’s a little like garlic.

Can goats eat onion plants?

If you have a goat as a pet, you must already have figured out that these ruminants are more of a browser than a grazer.

Although goats are more closely related to primarily grass-eating mammals like sheep and cows, their eating habits are similar to deer, which prefer eating leaves from trees instead of grass.

If you have an onion plant in your garden, your goats might want to eat the leaves from them. But will it be safe for them? No, all parts of the onion plants are equally harmful to your goats, and so are the other allium plants.

Therefore, even if these plants are a part of your garden, make sure to build a fence around them to prevent your goats from eating them.

Other plants that goats cannot eat

It might come as a surprise to many, but allium plants are not the only ones that your goats need to be careful about. There are many other plants that these browsers should also steer clear of for the sake of their health.

Following are some of the plants that can be harmful to goats:

  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Yew (Taxus baccata)
  • Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
  • Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia)
  • Lasiandra (Tibouchina urvilleana)
  • Lilac (Oleaceae)
  • Dog Hobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana)
  • Flixweed (Descurainia sophia)
  • African Rue (Peganum harmala)
  • Wolf’s Bane (Ranunculaceae)
  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • Avocado (Persea americana)
  • Holly trees (Ilex)
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Frequently asked questions

Can I feed lettuce to my goat? Yes. All fresh lettuce varieties are safe and healthy for goats in a limited quantity. However, you must not overfeed lettuce to them.

Can goats eat cucumbers? Cucumbers are refreshing treats for goats and can be fed to them safely. However, you must always chop cucumbers first, because if they try to eat cucumbers whole, they could choke on them. 

Conclusion: Can Goats Eat Onions?

Although goats can occasionally eat onions without any adverse effects, we advise you against it out of a precautionary principle. Over-eating onion can lead to poisoning in most livestock animals, and even though goats are more resistant to it than horses or dogs, they are not fully immune to it. 

I hope we were able to cover some of the common questions that you may have when it comes to whether or not your beloved pet goat can eat onions, and that this information will be helpful to you in the future.

Do you still have further questions? Contact us and we’ll answer it as best we can!

Be sure to share it and spread the word! Thanks for reading (again)!

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