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NY State Fair offers visitors the chance to see a calf be born

A new exhibit at the New York State Fair in Syracuse this year shows cows giving birth; and you just never know when you might be able to see a maternal miracle.

When the ribbon on the new Dairy Cow Birthing Center was cut, visitors were milling about, enjoying some dairy related snacks. Reporters were interviewing the experts who would explain why fairgoers should want to see the birth of a calf, when there was an interruption.

"We have a calf coming. Didn't mean to interrupt, but nature calls."

Farmers had to move the cow in the middle of childbirth, with the head and feet of the yet-to-be-born calf visible, from one pen to another.

The farmer describing the birth, didn't even have time to get miked up.

"She's making fast progress and she didn't read the book," he said. "She wasn't supposed to calve until tomorrow. But that happens, so she's going to lay down with some good pushing now."

Everyone was mesmerized by the unexpected birth.
"She's having a baby," chirped one little girl.

A few minutes later the calf was born.

It's moments like this that Locke dairy farmer dale Matoon wants to share.

"A lot of people probably haven't seen anything born, quite frankly, so I don't know how the public will react. It'll be shocking to some people. Emotional for people. It's going to be entertaining and educational. The best part is we'll have a veterinarian and farmer sitting here talking to the crowd, answering questions, explaining what's going on and explaining what we do at home. And that I think is going to be great."

Matoon brought several cows on the verge of giving birth.

"We've done the best we can to mimic the conditions at home. The only difference really is the crowd around them. I'm surprised, these cows have been here for an hour and a half, and already half of them are laying down, chewing their cud. There's people here, there's loudspeakers going and they seem really content."

Cornell University veterinary students and farmers will attend to the calving, and explain the birthing process to the public. They expect three calves born every day. The Center is next to the FAA and Beef Center.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.