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Fairgoers witness Miracle of Birth

CENTREVILLE, MI -- Everybody loves babies, especially baby critters. What is more adorable than fuzzy chicks or a wobbly newborn calf? Not much and some fairs, both county and state, are taking advantage of that fact by introducing people to the birthing of livestock as an event. St. Joseph County (MI) is one of those with their ‘Miracle of Birth’ tent.
Every year, organizers make arrangements to have pregnant animals at the fairgrounds with their delivery date set during the week of the fair. This particular one has goats, sheep, swine, cattle, and various poultry and waterfowl. Several people volunteer to help man the tent throughout the fair and are prepared to answer the myriad of questions asked of them. There are also veterinarians who donate their services to assist and monitor the animals.
The focus is on the livestock who are traditionally appreciated at the dinner table. Three to four sheep are housed there along with a few goats with some multiple births happening. One cow is usually there until she gives birth and then she is replaced with a new mother-to-be. The movement is to help alleviate the stress on the mothers as they tend to be aggressive toward people after the birth. Two hogs are settled into birthing crates as they await the coming of their piglets. The mothers are watched to make sure that the babies are safe and not laid upon by the sows.
One interesting note is the community involvement at different levels. For example, several years ago, a local real estate office donated an incubator to the county-wide FFA chapter to use within the agricultural curriculum. It was also appreciated at the Miracle of Birth tent.
The owners make a great deal of effort to breed the animals, sometimes out of season like the sheep. It is quite often a guessing game as to when the animals bred. But when it works out, it is the best viewing experience for a public that is not familiar with the process.
The tent has a sound system connected to speakers that are strategically placed around the fairgrounds to announce the impeding births. The volunteers will share the name of the species while they are in labor, providing an opportunity for people to watch as the babies are born and how the mothers deal with them after the fact. The learning experiences are numerous as an audience of young and old view the animals.
This is another way to promote the farming experience to the public and share the reasons many delight in the owning of and caring for these animals.