At the MY Maryland State Fair, presented by Toyota, in Timonium, the Birthing Center offered a great opportunity for fairgoers to ask questions and learn more about agriculture, one of the most important industries in Maryland, August 26 - September 5.
The Birthing Center featured eye-level displays of litters of piglets and baby chicks as well as birthing areas where cows and sows (mother pigs) gave birth. Located in the Cow Palace behind the Dairy Bar, the Birthing Center was open 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. providing the opportunity for fairgoers to witness the miracle of the birth of calves, litters of piglets and hatching chicks. In addition, live video cameras coupled with big screen televisions were in place to ensure that everyone had a good view. University of Maryland agriculture students, predominantly from Animal and Avian Sciences, along with the Maryland State Fair Veterinarian were with the animals at all times to oversee and assist with the deliveries and narrate the birth events that occur during Fair hours. The students also used Twitter (#statefairbirths) and an answering machine to communicate with interested fairgoers when labor had begun. Video presentations were available when live births were not taking place.
Between births, students hold the chicks and piglets for an up close and personal look. They provide factual and fun answers to fairgoers’ questions about all aspects of agriculture.
“While many people might understand the vital role of Maryland’s food and fiber industries to its economy, most folks don’t get a chance to see first-hand what goes on at the farm,” said ANSC’s own Associate Professor Emeritus Dr. Tom Hartsock, who runs the Birthing Center each year. “We hope fairgoers, and especially children, walk away from the Birthing Center with a greater appreciation of the farm animals that provide so much of our nutritious food.”
Photos: Newborn calf at State Fair Birthing Center (top). Piglets born at the State Fair Birthing Center (bottom).