Do Turkeys Lay Eggs? Turkeys are fascinating birds that are commonly associated with Thanksgiving feasts and fall festivities. While most people are familiar with the idea of turkeys being raised for their meat, not many may be aware of their reproductive cycle and whether or not turkeys lay eggs.
In this blog, we will explore the intriguing world of turkey reproduction and answer the question: do turkeys lay eggs?
You may also want to read about the best turkey feed.
Do Turkeys Lay Eggs?
Do Turkeys Lay Eggs? The answer is yes, turkeys do lay eggs. However, there are some differences between turkey eggs and chicken eggs that are worth exploring. Unlike chickens, which are domesticated and selectively bred for egg production, turkeys are primarily raised for their meat. As a result, commercial turkey production typically focuses on raising turkeys for their size and quality of meat, rather than for egg production.
Turkeys in the Wild
In the wild, turkeys are ground-nesting birds, which means that they create nests on the ground to lay their eggs. Female turkeys, known as hens, will typically lay their eggs in a well-hidden spot on the forest floor, usually under dense vegetation, fallen leaves, or tall grasses. The hen will lay a clutch of eggs, which typically consists of 10-12 eggs, over a period of several days, and then begin incubating them.
Once the eggs are laid, the hen will incubate them for approximately 28 days, turning the eggs regularly to ensure even heat distribution and proper development. During this time, the hen will rarely leave the nest, relying on her camouflage and defensive instincts to protect her nest from predators.
After the eggs hatch, the baby turkeys, known as poults, will emerge from the nest and begin exploring their surroundings under the watchful eye of their mother. The hen will continue to care for and protect her brood, teaching them how to find food, avoid predators, and navigate their environment.
In domesticated settings, turkey reproduction is managed differently than in the wild. Commercial turkey farms typically use artificial incubation methods, where the eggs are collected from the hens and placed in carefully controlled incubators. These incubators regulate temperature, humidity, and other environmental conditions to optimize hatching success. Once the poults hatch, they are usually raised in brooder houses, which provide a controlled environment with heat lamps, feeders, and waterers to ensure their health and well-being.
It’s worth noting that not all turkeys are capable of laying eggs. In commercial turkey production, only female turkeys, or hens, are used for egg-laying, while male turkeys, or toms, are raised for meat production. The hens are selectively bred for their egg-laying ability, with characteristics such as good health, size, and egg production being considered desirable traits.
Size and Production
Turkey eggs are larger than chicken eggs, with a slightly different appearance. Turkey eggs are typically brown or tan in color, with speckles or spots, and have a thicker shell compared to chicken eggs. They are also richer in nutrients, with a higher protein and fat content, which is necessary for the developing turkey embryos.
It’s also important to note that turkey egg production is not as prolific as chicken egg production. Chickens are known for their high egg-laying capacity, with some breeds capable of laying over 300 eggs per year. In contrast, turkey hens typically lay fewer eggs, with an average of 70-100 eggs per year in commercial settings. However, it’s worth mentioning that wild turkeys may lay fewer eggs due to the challenges of nesting on the ground and protecting their nests from predators.