Grade 10 class wins 3,600 eggs for Wakaw School

Carol Baldwin/LJI Reporter/Wakaw School Wakaw grade 10 students pose for a photo after winning the Star Egg Contest.

Carol Baldwin
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Wakaw Recorder

As part of Canada Ag Literacy Month in March, Star Egg partnered with the Horizon School Division in a contest for a school to win 3,600 eggs to be used in the school.

Every classroom that participated in something agriculture-related during March could make a “public” post on social media tagging both Star Egg and Horizon School Division to be entered in the contest. Forty-three classrooms entered, and Mr. Haryett’s Grade 10 class at Wakaw School won the 3,600 eggs and a classroom presentation!

The presentation was held on June 3 and all the Grade 10 students listened to the presentation and learned about Star Egg and egg processing in Saskatchewan. Star Egg is a food provider based in Saskatchewan that specializes in grading, distributing, and marketing “shell eggs” in Western Canada. They source their eggs from 65 local farmers who raise hens producing certified organic, omega-rich, free-range, or nutritionally enhanced eggs, along with standard eggs. Star Egg and the farmers they work with adhere to best practices regarding food safety regulations, animal welfare, social justice, responsible sourcing, and employment. 

Star Egg’s contracted farmers produce 2.2 million eggs and the state-of-the-art facility processes and grades 1.9 million eggs daily. The egg suppliers follow the Start Clean-Stay Clean program, a food safety program developed by experts to ensure that the eggs meet some of the highest standards in the world. This program emphasizes sanitation, biosecurity, and detailed record keeping, and is verified by third-party auditors to ensure that only eggs meeting these standards reach Saskatchewan homes.

The students learned that farmers follow a comprehensive animal care program ensuring hens are raised according to the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code of Practice for Laying Hens. To certify these standards are being met, each farm is assessed by a third-party auditor. The code of practice was created by a diverse group, including veterinarians, food scientists, the Humane Society, the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, and Egg Farmers of Canada. This code outlines standards for nutritional requirements, access to water, clean air, minimum space requirements, and various components essential for ensuring animal welfare.

Selecting housing for hens is complex. Farmers must consider hens’ social and behavioural requirements while keeping them healthy, preventing disease, ensuring each hen has equal access to feed and water, and providing an optimal climate of light, air quality, temperature and humidity. They must also consider the impact of the housing system on the environment, worker safety, air quality, affordability, sustainability and food safety. Farmers work closely with animal agriculture specialists and housing researchers to develop solutions that allow for natural behaviours, give hens the space they need, and keep them comfortable.

All eggs received at Star Egg have a barcode label containing the producer’s name, the type of eggs, and the date they were laid. The eggs’ barcode is scanned upon arrival and again during grading. This process enables the management of a database containing all relevant information related to the eggs, which can be crucial in a recall. After the eggs are unloaded, they are stored in a cooler allocated for ungraded eggs. Egg grading involves cleaning, sanitizing, inspecting, weighing, candling, sorting and packaging eggs to prepare them for the grocery store. Within 3-5 days of leaving the farm, the eggs are shipped to a grocery store in refrigerated trucks ready for purchase.

Dirty eggs are rewashed and sanitized. Eggs with discoloured shells are sent to a breaking facility where they are used to make liquid or dried egg products, while eggs that are deemed unfit for human consumption are used for things like biofuel or sent to Horizon Pet Food at Rosthern to be used as a protein source. Currently, there are no ‘breaking’ facilities in Saskatchewan, so those eggs are sold and then the finished product must be purchased back. Star Egg received $5 million in grant funding to build a breaking plant to create that value-added product line. The necessary equipment has been ordered and is expected to arrive this fall to have the plant running by spring 2025.

Eggs can be part of a balanced diet. They are nutritious, and with 6 grams of protein in one large egg, are one of the most complete sources of protein containing all 9 essential amino acids that people need for a healthy diet. The 3600 eggs will be delivered to the Wakaw School in smaller quantities over the 2024-25 school year to be used for and by the students. Further collaborations between Star Egg and Horizon School Division are being discussed.