by Olivia Wasilko
After nearly three weeks of anticipation, the chicken eggs temporarily donated to the Kittanning Library by Rent The Chicken have finally hatched.
Under the careful watch of library director Beth Milanak, four of the seven eggs hatched on Wednesday. Out of the seven eggs, three are expected to be “duds” – eggs that don’t hatch, usually due to genetic issues.
In no more than three days, the chicks will be moved from their incubator to a larger pen with a heating lamp to keep them at the proper temperature until they are more developed. After two weeks, Rent The Chicken co-founder Phillip Tompkins will come to the library to bring the chicks back to the farm.
In around six months, when the chicks are grown and start laying eggs of their own, they will go into the Rent The Chicken program to be leased out to families who want farm-fresh eggs without the commitment.
Beth Milanak, who had been caring for the eggs, says that the program was good for the library.
“There was a line outside waiting to come see them,” she said. “So it has increased a lot of interest. A lot of parents would be here and say ‘Let’s go see them.’”
The experience has allowed people to see what raising chicks is like without the responsibility of doing it on their own. Many people who haven’t considered keeping chickens are now reaching out to Rent The Chicken after watching the development of the eggs.
“It didn’t seem as hard to hatch them as I thought,” said Milanak, who has five full-grown hens of her own. “We just had to put water in every third day and candle them to see if there’s any life in them. Then they hatch on their own.”
“Candling” is a term that means examining eggs with a flashlight to see the chick inside, similar to an ultrasound. Children who visited the library before the hatch were able to candle the eggs with the help of library volunteers.
“It’s really interesting watching day-to-day how much the eggs change when you candle them,” Milanak said. “’ I thought it was a great program. It was a good experience for kids to come and check it out.”
The chicks are available for observation at the Kittanning Library on 280 North Jefferson Street.