Most cows don’t give birth in front of a cheering crowd with medical help close by. They usually have their calves in the field.
But at the birthing center at the Kansas State Fair, cows are given fresh hay and water, watched carefully by both onlookers and veterinarians, and encouraged as they give birth to their offspring.
“It’s usually a natural birth,” said Dr. Blaine Johnson, a veterinarian from Kansas State University.
Two calves born Friday at the Kansas State Fair
On Friday morning, two Jersey calves were born. One was a boy; the other a girl.
In addition to the calves, lambs and piglets were born throughout the week.
“This birthing center really helps bridge the gap between agriculture and the public,” Johnson said. “This shows how things really happen in the birthing process.”
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Although most of the animals in the center give birth without fanfare, earlier this week, a Holstein cow was taken down the road to a veterinary clinic for an emergency C-section.
“We do what is best for the animals,” Johnson said.
The veterinarians, veterinary students and volunteers answer any questions the public asks. Both Jerscalves belong to the Perry Beachy Family of Hutchinson. A Holstein cow from the Orville Miller family of Hutchinson was also in the center.
“We show them (the public) up close how we actually take care of the animals,” Johnson said. “We show them why we do what we do.”
Teaching and getting experience
Lance Berry and Julia Smith are both 4th-year veterinary students at K-State who helped with the newborn calves. Smith, who was raised in Georgia, grew up with horses and would love to take care of them. Although she said, “Cows are pretty cool.”
Berry, on the other hand, grew up on a ranch in Wyoming and wants to help with livestock. He said helping with cows is what he is used to.
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After birth, the calf needs to be licked by its mother, wiped down and fed.
“We need to keep them warm and stimulate them to breathe,” Berry said.
Emery Rumbaugh, 5, of Dodge City, was able to look at a piglet up close. Because her grandparents own a cattle ranch, she has observed calves before, but not a piglet.
“They’re really cute,” she said. “Their mommy is very tired.”