The agricultural community is faced with a challenge of increased demand for animal products. The problem has been exacerbated by the restrictions placed on the utilization of synthetic growth enhancers. This is because studies have revealed that enhancers such as antibiotics have a potential to cause harm to both human and animal health in the long run. As such, farmers are solely depend on feed to facilitate productivity. Livestock feed is however expensive; it constitutes a significant amount of the overall production costs. The sustainability of balanced feed is therefore under threat. A consequence of these problems is lowered productivity which also translates towards declined profitability. To counter these challenges, a variety of agricultural studies have been focused on finding out whether pigs can feed on onions for improved performance.

Nutritional Value

Good nutrition is fundamental to a pig’s growth rate, reproductive success, health and longevity. Pigs are opportunistic omnivores that have evolved to eat a wide range of feeds. They digest feed very similarly to humans, with limited ability to extract nutrients from high fibre feeds such as pasture. This means that they are able to digest feedstuffs primarily meant for humans. As such, pigs can eat onions for maintenance, reproduction as well as production purposes. Onion is said to be an excellent feed additive for pigs. It consists of carbohydrates, fibre and vitamins C, B9 (Folate) and B6. Onions are also a source of minerals including potassium that plays an important role in health maintenance. Pigs can feed on onions so as to absorb trace elements needed for improved performance. To add on, onions are highly famed for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. Other compounds found in onions are flavonoids such as anthocyanins and quercetin. These play an important role in controlling the occurrence of oxidation. Note that onions are lacking in some nutrients including protein. It is therefore necessary to provide onions as feed supplements ensiled in diets rich in lacking nutrients and minerals.

Physical Development

The rate at which livestock develop is mostly influenced by their dietary plans. It is every farmer’s goal that animals reach maturity earlier for increased profitability. In fact, the faster a pig grows and reaches its required slaughter weight, the less money and time is needed to feed and care for it. The killing out percentage for commercial pigs is about 72% to 74%, with the percentage of usable meat around 64% of the animal’s live weight and prime cuts being approximately 48% of the live weight. Onion is a good source of nutrients and minerals among other compounds necessary for growth enhancement. As such, pigs can feed on onion supplements in order to improve on growth rates thereby allowing for early or timely maturity. However, farmers should be aware that excess feeding does not increase growth rate, instead, it has the opposite effect. Onion is lacking in sufficient proteins. This means that selected feed supplements must be rich in the deficient nutrients. Failure to do so exposes animals to a number of health related problems that can potentially hinder timely growth and development. Protein is needed for growth, maintenance, reproduction and production. Deficiencies are known to cause small calves at birth; low milk production which affects the growth and development of young piglets; loss of body weight, increased risk of infectious and metabolic diseases. Therefore, for an effective dietary plan, make sure that onions are ensiled with appropriate feedstuffs.

Health Maintenance

Pigs can feed on onions which are packed with nutrients necessary for health maintenance.  The vegetable is high in vitamins, particularly vitamin C. The nutrient plays a crucial role in regulating the immune health therefore offering livestock some form of protection against rampant diseases and infection. Vitamin C found in onions also allows for tissue production as well as iron absorption. To add on, onions are also a source of vitamin B including folate and pyridoxine which are of the essence in metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function. Onions also consist of trace elements needed for livestock health sustenance. Since the consequences of trace elements are experienced overtime, these compounds are often ignored by farmers. According to a variety of research studies, although deficiency symptoms delay to manifest, pigs lacking in trace elements are most likely to suffer from a range of health related issues that hinder maximum productivity. Also, pigs can eat onions in order to absorb potassium needed for maintaining the acid–base balance, facilitating glucose and neutral amino acid uptake into cells, protein synthesis, maintaining heart and kidney muscle integrity.

Pigs can feed on onions because they are made up of carbohydrates, which are mostly simple sugars such as glucose and fibre among other types. They also consist of important compounds in the control of oxidation. It has been pointed out that onions are excellent feed additives. This makes them even more valuable as synthetic additives are expensive.  Even worse, additives such as antibiotics are not advisable and so restrictions have been placed on their utilisation. That being said, an important point to keep in mind is that onions should only make up a limited amount of the overall dietary plan. Despite the fact that pigs can eat onions without adversely affecting on health sustainability, excess onions can be harmful. As such, care should be taken to provide appropriate rations.

Antioxidant Agent

Pigs can eat onions as a protective means against oxidative stress. Lipid oxidation is a process whereby polyunsaturated fatty acid react with reactive oxygen species leading to a series of secondary reactions which in turn lead to degradation of lipids and development of oxidative rancidity. The consequence is low quality produce that commands low market value. The texture and taste of the meat tends to be of poor quality and so is its nutritional value.  Onions are among the main dietary sources of flavonoids which act as antioxidant agents allowing for effective control of oxidation. Red and yellow onions are richer in antioxidants than other types. As a matter of fact, yellow onions contain approximately 11 times more antioxidants than white oxidants. As such, pigs can feed on onions so as to acquire natural methods of fighting free radicals that cause oxidative stress instead of synthetics means which are said to be harmful to both human and animal health.