Aug. 8, 2013

New state fair exhibit will feature cows giving birth

dairy cow nuzzles her newborn calf
Tracey Buyce
With other cows looking on, a dairy cow nuzzles her newborn calf at barn near Albany, N.Y.

Ice cream, yogurt, cheese and milk all begin with a special delivery – the birth of a calf. For the first time, this maternal miracle can be witnessed at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair Aug. 22-Sept. 2, daily from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Cornell veterinary students and veterinarians will attend to the calving and explain the birthing process to the public, and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences undergraduate students will assist in postpartum care at the exhibit, which was organized by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition.

The new birthing center seeks industry volunteers to help staff the barn and answer fairgoer questions.

“The new birthing center is expected to attract thousands of fairgoers, who will ask about cow care, milk safety and more,” said Jessica Ziehm, Cornell animal extension specialist and executive director of New York Animal Agriculture Coalition. Volunteers, who can be farmers, herdsmen, veterinarians, agricultural students, nutritionists or industry representatives, will discuss cow care, dairy farm recycling efforts and dairy farm economic impact for local communities.

The exhibit is adjacent to the FFA and beef barns at the fairgrounds. It is expected that each day three cows will give birth.

“Activities such as the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at this year’s New York State Fair are essential to explaining the world from farm to table. It was not long ago when most of society was well connected to food production and agricultural systems. This truly teaches people about where food comes from, and programs like this will help to bridge that gap,” said Chad Wall, Cornell veterinary student volunteer at the exhibit.

In addition to Ziehm, exhibit organizers include Charles Nydam, D.V.M., coordinator of the Summer Dairy Institute at the College of Veterinary Medicine; Charles Guard, D.V.M., associate professor, College of Veterinary Medicine; and Debbie Grusenmeyer, Cornell extension associate, Pro Dairy program, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The New York Corn and Soybean Growers provided the grant to initiate the Dairy Cow Birthing Center and Farm Credit East, Cargill Animal Nutrition, and other agricultural businesses contributed funding. To volunteer, contact Ziehm at jaz67@cornell.edu or 518-527-3949.