Skink-hunting hens supply for Auckland City Mission parcels

9:14 pm on 24 December 2018

Two-hundred skink-hunting hens on Great Barrier Island have produced more than 30,000 eggs for the Auckland City Mission's food parcels.

'Biosecurity chickens' on Aotea Great Barrier hunting skinks.

'Biosecurity chickens' on Aotea Great Barrier hunting skinks. Photo: Auckland Council

The chickens were settled on the island earlier this year as part of an Auckland Council biosecurity pilot project to eliminate plague skinks.

Auckland Council biosecurity manager Phil Brown said the chickens have proved to be effective at tracking down the skinks and eating them - despite it being a pretty left-field idea to begin with.

"We really don't have any good control tools for things like skinks. We've had mouse traps and rat traps for hundreds and hundreds of years, but there aren't good skink traps out there," he said.

"[The chickens] have shown that they can really knock the numbers of the plague skinks down and help out our two-legged biosecurity officers."

And where there are hens, there will be eggs.

The tens of thousands of eggs that the chickens have laid have been donated to the Auckland City Mission.

Each week, the eggs have been taken by ferry to the mainland and delivered to the mission.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said they were grateful for the donations.

"Eggs are of immense value to our organisation. Up until this partnership with Auckland Council we have only been donated eggs infrequently, so haven't been able to regularly supply them to families," he said.

The eggs have been used in a number of ways, including in food parcels.

The biosecurity hen pilot project has another six months to run. The council will review its success after that and make a decision about whether it will continue.