Every American eats an average of 286 eggs per year, which may sound absurd, but when you consider how often you might have eggs for breakfast, it does add up. Most of these eggs are likely chicken eggs, so you might wonder why we don’t eat other types of eggs, like turkey eggs. There are a few reasons we don’t eat turkey eggs, but when turkeys lay eggs is a big part of it.
When do turkeys lay eggs? A turkey hen usually starts to lay eggs at around seven months. In contrast, chickens begin laying eggs between 18 and 22 weeks, or about five months.
In this article, we’ll explain when turkeys lay eggs and tell you everything you need to know about turkey eggs.
When Do Turkeys Lay Eggs in Their Lifetime?
As mentioned, turkeys begin to lay eggs at around seven months. When in their lifetime they stop laying eggs, however, is a little unclear.
The age at which turkeys stop laying eggs depends on their breed. For example, heritage turkeys such as the Broad Breasted White turkeys typically continue to lay eggs until they are at least five years old. Other breeds may lay eggs up until age seven.
Some turkeys may continue to lay eggs beyond the age of seven, but the egg supply reduces as the turkey gets older. For context, the average lifespan of a turkey is ten years.
In addition, it’s important to note that once their nest is full, turkeys stop laying eggs. But if you continue to take their eggs, they will continue to lay them.
What Season Do Turkeys Lay Eggs?
Turkeys are typically seasonal layers. They usually lay eggs in clutches in the spring – between April and June.
However, this isn’t an exact rule, as some turkeys lay eggs earlier in the year or during a wider timespan, laying eggs from March to July.
In rare instances, some people find that their turkeys are outliers and begin to lay eggs close to year-round. However, you should generally expect your turkeys to lay eggs throughout the spring.
At What Time of Day Do Turkeys Lay Eggs?
Turkeys usually lay eggs in the morning and early afternoon, with eggs more often being laid in the morning rather than later in the day. This is similar to chickens, who are well-known for laying eggs in the morning.
You’ll see turkeys lay eggs at the onset of darkness or after dusk, but you’ll never find them laying eggs at night. So if you’re looking for the best time of day to grab fresh eggs from your turkeys, mornings are it.
What Do Turkey Eggs Look Like?
As you can guess by the animal’s size, turkey eggs are pretty large. A turkey egg is twice the size of a chicken egg. Their larger size also has a thicker shell that’s harder to crack open.
Despite how different they look, the taste of turkey eggs is similar to that of chicken eggs. Some say they have a heartier and creamier taste than a chicken egg, and some even prefer turkey eggs. However, the flavor difference overall is not too different, and neither are the nutritional facts – although you’ll only need to eat one turkey egg to get the same nutritional benefits you get from two chicken eggs.
So, we know that turkeys lay eggs. And we know that turkey eggs taste similar to chicken eggs. So why don’t we eat turkey eggs?
Why Don’t We Eat Turkey Eggs?
Although they are the star of every November, you can find turkeys year-round in grocery stores around the country. What’s more, every part of the turkey seems meant for consumption.
Turkey products you typically find in your local grocery store include:
- Turkey legs
- Turkey neck
- Ground turkey
- Sliced turkey
We eat every other part of the turkey, so why not the eggs?
The easy answer is that turkey eggs are more costly than chicken eggs to produce due to the long life cycle of turkeys, which results in the fact that they don’t start producing eggs until they’re about seven months old.
If turkeys were bred for their eggs, they would need significantly more food and space than chickens, which also means that they’d cost a lot more to produce than chicken eggs and cost a lot more in the grocery store.
For farmers raising turkeys, a fertilized egg is more valuable, as they can turn into more turkeys, which are in high demand and, therefore, more profitable.
Other Reasons We Don’t Eat Turkey Eggs
Although the economic aspect of turkey eggs is the main reason they aren’t very prominent, there are a few other reasons why people don’t consume eggs from this bird very much. One reason we don’t eat turkey eggs is that they don’t generally lay a lot of eggs.
A turkey hen lays fewer eggs, only about two or three eggs per week. Chickens typically lay double that –about five to six eggs per week. This is another reason it isn’t as economical to keep a turkey flock for its egg production.
The final reason we don’t eat turkey eggs very much is that they are unfamiliar to most people. There’s no doubt that many people would be intrigued if they saw a turkey egg in the grocery store and may purchase it to give it a try.
However, the chances are slim that many people would trade in their chicken eggs for turkey eggs every morning. While they are tasty, not many people are willing to pay double the price for a turkey egg when they would like a chicken egg.
Wrap-Up: When Can You Expect to Have Turkey Eggs?
To recap, turkeys lay eggs:
- Starting at seven months until about seven years of age
- In the morning or early afternoon
- Usually through April to June, although some outlier turkeys have a larger laying window
Therefore, as a turkey farmer, you can expect to have turkey eggs in the spring to either sell, share with friends, or keep for your own enjoyment.
That said, turkeys reach maturity quite late and lay eggs late, so producing turkey eggs isn’t profitable for farmers since the demand for these giant eggs isn’t there.
However, just because you can’t find turkey eggs in the grocery store doesn’t mean you’ll never get to try one.
If you’re interested in trying turkey eggs, hit up your local farm to purchase directly from them. They’ll likely have some turkey eggs ready to sell, and you’ll also be buying local and fresh ones.