Feeding cull onions to sheep

TitleFeeding cull onions to sheep
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsFredrickson E.L., Shupe, W. Larry
JournalRanch Magazine
Date PublishedOctober 1, 1992
Keywordscull onions, inexpensive feed, livestock feed, oxlion poisoning, sheep
AbstractSeveral years ago during a visit to the Las Cruces city landfill, we saw a small mountain of cull onions with several pickups parked around it. People were climbing over the pile looking for the best onions to load in their pickups to either eat or sell. While watching the people sort through the onions we wondered if we could use onions as a livestock feed. Sometime later we searched various journals to learn what is currently known about feeding cull onions to livestock. To our surprise, there was very little information. Most all the articles available only described a condition termed "oxlion poisoning," a condition where sulfur compounds in onions cause red blood cells to loose their ability to carry oxygen and eventually the red blood cells die. Despite these reports in the literature, we knew of a few sheep producers who were feeding cull onions. It became obvious to us that research designed to determine the amount of onions that could safely be fed to sheep might be useful to sheep producers and onion growers alike. Onions are potentially an inexpensive feed. Also, cull onions reentering the market place negatively affect market demand for onions and onion prices. With aid from the New Mexico Dry Onion Commission, we completed two studies using sheep.