Why are turkey eggs not sold in stores?

Turkey eggs are not commonly sold in grocery stores for a few key reasons: demand, egg production, and regulations. Turkeys simply do not produce enough eggs compared to chickens to make them a viable commercial egg source. Additionally, consumer demand for turkey eggs is relatively low compared to chicken eggs. Regulations and labeling requirements also complicate the sale of turkey eggs in stores. However, some specialty grocers and farms do sell turkey eggs on a limited basis.

Quick Answers:

What’s the difference between turkey eggs and chicken eggs?

The main differences between chicken and turkey eggs are:

– Size – turkey eggs are about twice as large as chicken eggs on average. A turkey egg weighs about 3-4 ounces compared to a chicken egg at 1.5-2 ounces.

– Color – turkey egg shells are more speckled and colored than white chicken eggs. The shell is tan, spotted, or lightly colored.

– Taste – the flavor is comparable to chicken eggs but some detect a slightly richer, eggier taste in turkey eggs.

– Nutrition – turkey eggs contain more calories, fat, and cholesterol compared to chicken eggs given their larger size.

– Uses – turkey eggs can be used similarly to chicken eggs but their larger size makes them impractical for some purposes. They work well scrambled, fried, poached, in baking, etc.

How many eggs do turkeys lay compared to chickens?

Turkeys lay significantly fewer eggs than chickens:

– Chickens lay up to 300 eggs per year on average. A productive hen can lay one egg daily.

– Turkeys only lay about 100-120 eggs per year. Turkeys lay eggs during the spring and early summer.

– The egg laying abilities of chickens have been selectively bred. Turkeys have not undergone the same selective breeding focused on egg production.

– It would take 3-4 turkey hens to produce the same number of eggs as one chicken hen in a year.

– Commercial egg laying chicken breeds are the Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, and Plymouth Rock. These lay much more than heritage chicken breeds.

Would turkey eggs be viable commercially?

Turkey eggs are generally not viable commercially for a few reasons:

– Lower production – turkeys only lay 100-120 eggs annually compared to 300 for chickens. The lower output makes them less efficient.

– Higher feed cost – with their larger size, turkeys require more feed and have higher feed costs per bird. This makes turkey eggs more expensive to produce.

– Niche demand – there is limited consumer demand for turkey eggs compared to the popularity of chicken eggs. The market would be niche.

– Size challenges – the larger turkey egg size poses challenges in production, storage, packaging and transport optimized for chicken eggs. Machinery would need adjustment.

– Regulations – turkey eggs face regulatory hurdles for labeling and sale at grocery stores. They require special exemptions compared to chicken eggs.

A few specialty suppliers do sell turkey eggs but they occupy a very niche market compared to the widespread availability of chicken eggs. The economics and demand don’t favor large scale turkey egg production at this time.

Turkey Egg Production vs. Chicken Egg Production

The average turkey produces far fewer eggs per year than chickens. This lower egg laying rate is one of the main reasons turkey eggs are not as commercially viable or as widely available as chicken eggs:

Turkey Egg Production

– Turkeys lay between 100-120 eggs per year on average.

– Turkey hens begin laying eggs in early spring and taper off by late spring or early summer.

– Egg production peaks between March and May.

– Turkey eggs hatch after 28 days of incubation.

– Heritage turkey breeds may lay slightly more eggs than commercial breeds.

– The largest turkey eggs come from heritage breeds like the Narragansett and Bourbon Red.

Chicken Egg Production

– The average chicken lays up to 300 eggs per year. Productive laying hens can produce one egg daily.

– Laying breeds like the Leghorn can produce up to 320 eggs per year.

– Chickens start laying eggs around 18-24 weeks of age. They lay consistently during their first 2-3 years.

– Chickens lay the most eggs during spring and summer. Egg production declines in fall and winter.

– Chicken eggs hatch after 21 days of incubation.

– Heritage chicken breeds lay fewer eggs – closer to 150-200 per year.

– Commercial egg laying chicken breeds have been selectively bred to maximize egg production.

The much higher egg laying rates of chickens make them efficient for commercial egg production. Three or four turkey hens would need to be raised to match the annual egg output of a single chicken hen.

Consumer Demand for Turkey Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs

Turkey eggs do not have widespread consumer demand. Chicken eggs are far more popular and have dominated the retail egg market for many reasons:

Demand for Chicken Eggs

– Chicken eggs are widely available at any grocery store and convenient to purchase.

– They have become a dietary staple and are used in many recipes and food products.

– Chicken eggs are affordable – the average price for a dozen is $1.66 as of November 2022.

– They have a high nutritional value and provide an excellent source of protein. Chicken eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids.

– People are familiar with the taste, appearance, and cooking properties of chicken eggs. The white and yolk work well for a range of cooking methods.

– Chicken eggs are standardly sized for recipes, packaging, machinery, and retail.

Demand for Turkey Eggs

– Turkey eggs have limited availability and are only sold at some specialty stores, butcher shops, and farms.

– They are not a staple ingredient and few recipes specifically call for turkey eggs.

– The cost is higher, ranging from $3-$5 per egg since they are not mass produced.

– Consumer awareness and familiarity with turkey eggs is lower. Some find their speckled appearance unusual compared to white chicken eggs.

– The extra large turkey egg size poses challenges in recipes designed for large chicken eggs.

– Niche interest is driven by curiosity in the difference from chicken eggs or seeking out alternative poultry products.

The well-established dominance of chicken eggs in both production and public preference makes turkey eggs unlikely to gain a significant market foothold. But they do appeal to some consumers looking for novelty, alternatives, and specialty food products.

Regulations on Selling Turkey Eggs

Turkey eggs face more complex regulations compared to chicken eggs when it comes to selling them commercially. The requirements limit their availability in grocery stores:

Regulations for Chicken Eggs

– Chicken eggs can be sold commercially at stores once they meet basic FDA regulations, are graded, and labeled appropriately.

– There are four consumer grades for chicken eggs: AA, A, B, and C. Grade AA eggs are the highest quality.

– Chicken egg cartons must be labeled with the grade, size, farm name/number, expiration date, and safe handling guidelines.

– Per the FDA Food Code, chicken egg preparations like salads can be sold commercially if pasteurized.

Regulations for Turkey Eggs

– Turkey eggs are not USDA graded. Since there are no commercial standards, they can only be sold as “ungraded.”

– There are no standard turkey egg sizes. Sizes and weights vary between heritage breeds.

– Turkey eggs cannot be sold commercially in prepared foods like salad without a special exemption from state agricultural departments.

– To be exempted and sell turkey egg products, farms have to follow strict protocols for cleaning, sanitizing, and refrigeration.

– Turkey egg cartons require custom labeling with the farm’s name, address, safe handling instructions, etc. There are no standard consumer grades.

– Some states prohibit the commercial sale of turkey eggs entirely. Regulations vary.

The additional exemptions required limit the feasibility of selling turkey eggs. The regulations are geared for standardization of chicken egg production. Turkeys produce far fewer eggs than chickens. As heritage breeds, their eggs have wider variability in size, color, and appearance. This makes it difficult to establish unified commercial guidelines for selling them.

Why Don’t More Stores Sell Turkey Eggs?

The limited commercial availability of turkey eggs comes down to three main issues – lower production, niche demand, and complicated regulations:

Lower Turkey Egg Production

– Turkeys only lay 100-120 eggs annually compared to 300 from chickens. Turkeys have a shorter laying season.

– Three to four turkey hens are needed to match the output of one chicken. This lowers the efficiency.

– Turkeys require more feed and resources for their larger size, increasing production costs.

– No turkey breeds have undergone the intensive selective egg laying breeding used for chicken layers.

– Switching facilities and machinery from chickens to turkeys poses infrastructure challenges.

Niche Demand

– Chicken eggs dominate the retail market and consumer preferences. They are a dietary staple.

– Turkey eggs appeal to a relatively small niche of specialty food consumers.

– The average shopper has little awareness about the differences between chicken and turkey eggs.

– Higher prices for turkey eggs limit mainstream appeal. Dozen chicken eggs sell for $1.66 on average compared to $3-$5 per individual turkey egg.

Regulatory Issues

– Turkey eggs cannot be graded AA, A, B, or C like chicken eggs when sold commercially.

– Ungraded turkey eggs require extra labeling not needed for standardized chicken egg cartons.

– Selling prepared turkey egg products requires special exemption from state agricultural agencies.

– There are no standardized sizing guidelines for turkey eggs given the variation across heritage breeds.

– Some states prohibit the commercial sale of turkey eggs completely.

The added costs of producing turkey eggs compared to chickens, low consumer demand, and regulatory complications make them impractical for large scale retail. But some small specialty grocers and farmers do sell them in limited quantities. A few mail order hatcheries ship them directly to consumers as well.

Benefits and Uses of Turkey Eggs

Despite their limited commercial availability, turkey eggs do have benefits for those able to source them:


– Turkey eggs contain more nutrients than chicken eggs including higher protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients.

– The yolk tends to be richer and more flavorful. The bright orange color indicates higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.

– People report finding heritage turkey eggs more satiating and rich than standard chicken eggs.

– The higher cholesterol content (186 mg per egg) is something to watch for heart health.


– Two turkey eggs can typically substitute for three large chicken eggs in baking recipes.

– They make impressive extra large scrambled eggs, omelets, and poached eggs due to the large size.

– Turkey eggs work well in quiches, custards, breakfast bakes, and egg dishes needing volume.


– The beautiful speckled turkey egg shells have decorative uses for jewelry, ornament crafting, mosaic art, and craft displays.

– Blown out turkey eggs can be painted and carved for display pieces.

– The larger size provides a bigger canvas for dyeing, painting, and patterning turkey egg shells.


– Turkey eggs can be incubated to hatch heritage turkey poults. Homesteaders raise turkeys for meat and reproduce flocks.

– Hatching lets you breed heritage turkey varieties. Poults fetch a higher price than chicken chicks.

– Watching turkey eggs hatch and caring for poults can be an educational project for children.

For the specialty consumer, turkey eggs offer variation from the standard white chicken egg along with opportunities for baking, crafts, and hatching rare turkey breeds.

Where to Buy Turkey Eggs

While turkey eggs will remain a specialty niche product, more sources are emerging for interested consumers. Here are some places to find turkey eggs:

Local Turkey Farms

– Check nearby turkey farms especially leading up to spring. Ask if they sell extra eggs.

– Farmers markets can be another place to find farmers who may sell turkey eggs seasonally.

– Make sure to confirm any regulations in your state around private or commercial turkey egg sales.

Specialty Butchers and Groceries

– Many butcher shops source and sell local specialty meat and eggs. Check to see if they carry turkey eggs.

– Small health food stores, co-ops, and gourmet grocers sometimes sell turkey eggs from regional farms.

Online Mail Order

– Mayer Hatchery and Cackle Hatchery online ship turkey eggs nationwide.

– Etsy vendors and specialty food sites sell turkey eggs when in season.

– Check for minimum orders, shipping dates, and any permits required in your state.

Connecting directly with small turkey farms in your area will yield the best luck sourcing eggs. Otherwise, mail order provides seasonal access to turkey breeds from heritage hatcheries.

Price of Turkey Eggs

Turkey eggs cost more than chicken eggs since they are not mass-produced. Some average prices:

Chicken Eggs

– White eggs: $1.66 per dozen

– Organic eggs: $4.39 per dozen

– Specialty blue, green, etc.: $3-4 per dozen

Turkey Eggs

– Ungraded turkey eggs: $3-$4 per egg

– Standard turkey eggs: $1.50-$2 each

– Heritage breed turkey eggs: $5+ per egg

– Shipped turkey eggs: $125+ for a 25 pack

Factors impacting turkey egg prices:

– Limited supply – higher labor requirements for turkeys vs chickens

– Niche market – lack of mass production and distribution networks

– Egg size – extra large heritage breed eggs command a premium

– Specialty breeds – heritage, organic, free range or rare variety

– Shipping costs – overnighting perishable eggs

The curious consumer will find turkey eggs a fun alternative to chicken eggs. But prices will remain higher given the niche market. Lower production volumes and specialty nature prevent turkey eggs from competing with the chicken egg industry.

Global Production of Turkey Eggs

While domesticated turkeys originated from Mexico and were first raised in Europe, the top turkey egg producing country today is Israel. Global production remains very low compared to chicken eggs.

Top Turkey Egg Producing Countries

– Israel – Produces around 180 million turkey eggs annually, valued at $27 million. The country has focused on innovating turkey breeding and taming wild turkeys.

– Italy – Major exporter of turkey eggs to countries like Japan. Produces specialty organic and free range heritage turkey eggs.

– Mexico – As the ancestral home of wild turkeys, they remain an important agricultural product especially for traditional dishes.

– United States – Despite domesticating the wild turkey, the commercial turkey industry focuses on poultry meat production rather than eggs.

– Spain – Has preserved heritage turkey breeds that produce flavorful eggs like the Black Spanish turkey.

Global Chicken Egg Production

– China produces over 500 billion chicken eggs annually making up over 40% of the global supply.

– United States produces around 100 billion chicken eggs per year ranking 2nd globally.

– India, Mexico, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil and Turkey are other top egg producers.

– Global demand continues to grow steadily at 1-2% annually.

Chicken eggs outpace turkey eggs by hundreds of billions thanks to the intensive breeding, mechanization, and optimization of layer hen productivity. That enormous scale will prevent turkey eggs from becoming a major world commodity. Niche heritage breeds still have importance though for genetic diversity.


Turkey eggs will likely remain a specialty product without becoming a mainstream grocery staple. Turkeys have innate biological differences from chickens that limit their efficiency for commercial egg production. Without selective breeding for egg laying, turkeys do not produce enough volume to compete with the massive chicken egg industry. From a consumer standpoint, chicken eggs are also far more ingrained as a dietary staple. Regulations create additional hurdles to selling turkey eggs.

However, for the adventurous home cook or specialty food consumer, turkey eggs offer a fun alternative with a richer flavor and impressive extra large size. As heritage breeds, they give turkeys genetic diversity from the limited commercial turkey stocks. Small local farmers provide some seasonal access to turkey eggs in areas with interest. While chicken eggs dominate the market, turkey eggs can find a niche among those seeking out unique ingredients and varieties.

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