If the thought of eggs excites you…hold tight for a moment. I’m going to disappoint you! Heritage turkeys are not prolific producers. In fact, if you get 100 eggs per year you are doing incredibly well! Hens begin laying their second spring (1 yr of age) and continue to produce for 5-7 years.
Expect each hen to lay 2-3x per week, perhaps 4x if she’s an exceptional layer, at the peak of her laying and on highly nutritious feed. While I’ve been informed that turkeys will lay throughout the winter with a proper supply of light, we have chosen to raise ’em naturally and allow them to follow their nature’s pattern. In fact, we’ve never given them even so much as a small light bulb! If you wish to keep ’em laying throughout the winter months, you will have to keep hens on protein feed throughout.
We begin offering our birds a 16% protein game bird feed (usually mixed in with grains) in April. In the wilds, laying commences when the new foliage growth and bugs appear (aka protein). We try to follow nature’s pattern with our birds.
While heritage turkeys do not produce enough eggs to make a business of it, when raising these birds for meat, eggs can be a nice bonus…and help cover the costs! You can sell your fertilized turkey eggs for hatching (particularly if from a pure breed) at high prices. See details
I’ve had people ask me “can you eat turkey eggs?” To which I promptly reply with an emphatic “YES!” In all reality, there is a market for turkey eggs among those who deal with sensitivities to the chicken’s egg.
Turkey Vs Chicken Egg
I don’t have enough information to make a bold and blatant statement as to the “why,” but often those who cannot properly digest chicken eggs can eat the turkeys.’ Usually, these people try the duck egg but due to stronger flavor and a “rubbery” texture, some settle for the turkey’s egg which is similar to the chicken’s in flavor and texture.
A turkey egg is usually 2-3x the size of your average chicken egg and contains almost double the protein. Turkey eggs are also highest in calorie counts and among chicken and duck eggs contain the largest amounts of selenium and iron. Of course (as always) the nutritional content of an egg depends on what the bird has been eating.
Turkey eggs aren’t something I would go for on my homestead. But I do consider ’em to be a nice bonus while raising meat birds!
The most prolific layers are the smaller turkeys: Midget White and Beltsville Small Whites. However, due to lack of selective breeding, I’ve found that laying instincts vary alot within the larger breeds. To date, our Lavender hen is our best layer, mamma and caregiver. She’ll probably lead a long life in our flock!