The average turkey breed lays around 100 eggs in a year. This laying rate pales in comparison to chickens and ducks. So, unsurprisingly, many poultry farmers do not keep turkeys for eggs.
While turkeys are generally not the number one poultry birds for egg production, some breeds are prolific layers. With the prolific ones, you can get a good number of eggs. So, if you’ve been considering keeping turkeys and egg production is a deal-breaker for you, don’t rule them out yet.
In this article, we answer some questions you might have about a turkey’s egg-laying abilities. Then we also compile a list of the five best turkey breeds for eggs.
Are Turkeys Good Egg Layers?
Turkeys are decent egg layers. However, compared to chickens and ducks, they are average at best. Turkeys lay around 100 eggs on average – about half the laying rate of the average chicken and duck.
In addition to that, turkeys start laying eggs later than chickens and ducks. Chickens typically start laying eggs at around 18 weeks (about four months), and ducks can start not far off from that. On the contrary, turkeys begin when they are seven months old.
So, while turkeys might be decent egg layers, you will not get the best egg production experience from them.
What Is the Best Turkey Breed for Eggs?
Bourbon Reds and Beltsville Whites are some of the best turkeys for eggs. But if you are considering taste, Midget Whites have some of the tastiest turkey eggs.
Which Turkey Breed Lays the Most Eggs?
The domesticated Bourbon Red is the turkey breed that lays the most eggs. On average, members of this breed produce around 160 to 180 eggs per year.
Coming in close to the domesticated Bourbon Red is the Beltsville White turkey breed. Beltsville Whites lay around 150 to 180 eggs in a year.
How Many Eggs Do Narragansett Turkeys Lay?
Narragansett Turkeys can lay anywhere between 50 and 100 eggs. They typically lay eggs between February and April and do so every year.
The average laying rate of Narragansett Turkeys is 90 eggs per year. You can expect around 60 percent of the total egg production in the first 13 weeks. Then the rest come after that.
For How Many Years Do Turkeys Lay Eggs?
The number of years turkeys lay eggs depends on their variety. Heritage turkeys can lay eggs for around eight to nine years, with most of them laying for at least five years. However, after their fourth year, their egg production drops.
Unlike heritage turkeys, wild turkeys rarely ever live long enough to stop egg production. So, the number of years wild turkeys lay eggs is currently undefined.
In Detail: 5 Best Turkey Breeds for Eggs
Bourbon Red Turkeys
Bourbon Red turkeys are a turkey breed from Kentucky and Pennsylvania. They originate from Bourbon County, Kentucky, and they have been around since the 19th century. They came from crossbreeding White Holland, Jersey Buff, and Standard Bronze turkeys.
Their feathers generally have a beautiful red color, while their tail feathers are white with a soft red band.
Bourbon Reds generally lay around 90-120 eggs. However, domesticated Bourbon Reds can produce about 160-180 eggs. This makes domestic Bourbon Red turkeys the turkeys with the highest egg production rate.
While Bourbon Reds are primarily raised for meat, you may keep them for eggs. They can also serve ornamental purposes.
Bourbon Reds are large-sized birds. This is not too surprising since they were bred for meat. They also have the best-tasting meat amongst heritage turkeys.
The average Bourbon Red hen weighs around 18 pounds. The toms, on the other hand, weigh about 33 pounds.
Bourbon Reds are hardy; they thrive in almost all climates. Surprisingly, they are a heritage food in danger of extinction, according to The Ark of Taste by Slow Food USA.
Alongside domesticated Bourbon Reds, Beltsville Whites have the second-highest laying rates among turkeys. On average, they produce around 150 to 180 eggs per season.
Like Bourbon Reds, Beltsville Whites are a meat breed. But since they have a relatively high laying rate, you may also keep them for eggs. You could also breed them for exhibition. In fact, most people who raise Beltsville White turkeys today are exhibition breeders.
Beltsville Whites are an American turkey breed developed in 1934. Their place of creation is the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland. Hence, the “Beltsville“ in the breed name.
Beltsville Whites have some White Holland, Bronze, White Austrian, and Narragansett in their ancestry. They also have some wild turkey genes.
Beltsville Whites came to be as a result of consumer demand for small to medium-sized turkeys that have no dark pinfeathers. The development process gave the desired results as Beltsville Whites have an all-white plumage.
Beltsville Whites are small to medium-sized. On average, the toms weigh 17 pounds, while the hens weigh 10 pounds.
Beyond having a prolific laying rate amongst turkeys, Beltsville Whites have desirable reproduction qualities. Even as a small-scale poultry farmer, you’d have no issue selecting, maintaining, and breeding them.
Bronze turkeys are an American turkey breed. Their ancestry consists of eastern wild turkeys and domestic turkeys that European colonists brought to America.
Bronze turkeys are so named because of their bronze-like plumage with an iridescent sheen. While they’ve been around since the late 1700s, they didn’t actually get their name until the 1830s.
The average Bronze turkey lays around 75 to 155 eggs per year, making this breed one of the best turkey breeds for eggs.
Bronze turkeys are the most well-known heritage breed in America. A good part of their popularity stems from size. On average, these birds weigh between 16 and 25 pounds. The toms are generally heavier than the hens. Unsurprisingly, they are primarily a meat breed.
Of course, since Bronze turkeys have beautiful plumage with a bronze-like sheen, you can also keep them for ornamental purposes.
Bronze turkeys are of two varieties: Standard Bronze and Broad-Breasted Bronze. Some believe that there isn’t any distinction between the varieties. But then, they may differ in size and plumage sheen.
Broad-Breasted Bronze turkeys are bigger than Standard Bronze turkeys. However, the plumage of Standard Bronze turkeys is lighter and shinier.
Royal Palm Turkey
Like the Bronze turkeys, Royal Palm turkeys can give you around 100 to 155 eggs per year. Their eggs can be cream or brown but are always spotted.
Unlike the others we have discussed so far, people do not raise Royal Palm turkeys primarily for meat. Royal Palm turkeys are primarily ornamental birds.
Royal Palm turkeys have a British origin. The clues point to the likelihood of them having European turkey breeds ancestry.
Royal Palm turkeys are striking. Their plumage is white, but their beards and feathers tips are black, their throat and head are red, and their toes and shanks are pink.
The carefully combined coloration of these birds described above gives rise to a stunning appearance. So, it is no surprise they are primarily ornamental.
Royal Palm turkeys are small to medium-sized. On average, the hens weigh 10 to 12 pounds, while the toms weigh 16 to 22 pounds.
Royal Palm turkeys are excellent foragers. So, beyond being ornamental, they can help with pest control on small farms.
The conservation status of Royal Palm turkeys is currently set at threatened. However, the population of these birds appears to be increasing gradually.
Jersey Buffs have a decent laying rate amongst turkeys. Going by this, you can expect an average of 100 eggs from them per year.
The toms and hens of this breed are generally buff-colored. However, there are some distinctions between their plumage. One such difference is that Jersey Buff hens become lighter with age, especially after molting.
As we mentioned earlier, the Jersey Buff is one of many breeds that birthed the Bourbon Red breed. Unfortunately, the creation of the Bourbon Red contributed to the decline of Jersey Buffs.
Jersey Buffs have become quite rare. In fact, they might even be critically endangered at this time.
Jersey Buffs are medium to large-sized. The toms weigh around 23 pounds, and the hens weigh 13 pounds. Of course, with their size, Jersey Buffs are primarily meat birds.
Jersey Buffs are generally docile. However, you may find some aggressive ones amongst them. They are hardy and can thrive in almost all climates.
Jersey Buffs mate naturally. Unlike many modern turkey breeds, they have not experienced selective breeding processes for size. So, they are comparatively smaller.