It’s no yolk – the Joe Brain Petting Zoo is using eggs laid by its chickens and quail to raise money.
The three hens at the zoo have been laying a lot of eggs this summer. Now, zoo officials are selling the eggs to interested consumers through an online auction, giving interested people fresh produce and giving the zoo a financial boost.
Zoo manager Melissa Richardson has given the sale a catchy and memorable name – Egg Wars.
She said the zoo receives a number of hens from Creighton School every year.
“There’s a class that hatches them – the teacher brings them and shows the kids how to hatch them. We get the chickens and find them homes in the winter, then they come back in the summer,” said Richardson.
“It was an on-the-fly idea. I had a carton full of eggs and I asked our staff, ‘What should I do with these?’ They said, “We should sell them.’”
In the past, some hens had not been very productive egg-layers. Richardson said last summer, the zoo only had one hen that laid eggs – about one per week.
Now, the trio of hens average one egg each per day.
Richardson said the group had already produced six dozen eggs so far this summer, raising more than $100 for the zoo.
“They’re laying eggs this summer, and instead of taking them home and making omelettes for ourselves, I decided to make it a fundraiser for the zoo,” she said.
If their current laying rate continues, the hens will lay between 40 and 50 more eggs before August 24, when the zoo will hold their annual Hay Day and close for the season.
The eggs are sold on Facebook in an auction format, with interested buyers driving the price up in the comments. Previous auctions were held on the Flin Flon Post It Facebook page – now that the page has been taken down, Richardson said she hopes the City of Flin Flon will continue Egg Wars on its own Facebook page.
“It’s awesome. With all the donations, we can get more things for all the animals. This year, we got a whole bunch of cool things and I can get them a bunch of different treats,” she said.
It’s hard to find produce more fresh than the eggs, which are not processed before purchase. The eggs have been purchased for as much as $25 for a dozen.
“We don’t wash them – we just grab them from the chicken’s butt and we throw them in the container, then in the fridge. They’ll last up to three months in there, unwashed,” said Richardson.
“Online, I noticed there was one lady who bid two minutes too late on one of them – she tried to buy them off the winning lady for $25 and she wouldn’t give them up.”
In addition to the three hens, Richardson said the zoo has 18 quail that also lay eggs. The eggs are smaller and vary in colour, usually brown with dark brown or black spots.
“We just got four eggs out of their pen today,” she said.
The zoo also boasts a rooster named Charlie that spends the nights with hens. She added Charlie is penned off from the public, having garnered himself a bad reputation with visitors.
“He’s not allowed out in the yard. He kind of has an attitude,” she said.
The zoo also runs other fundraisers, including a donation box, a grain bucket for visitors and animal cookies made from bananas and oats.