News & Events

State Fair Livestock Nursery Open July 14-August 1

July 12, 2010

The School of Veterinary Medicine welcomes you to meet veterinary students outside the classroom and learn some basics about farm life at the California State Fair, where you can meet baby animals and their moms.  

For more than 30 years, Dr. Ben Norman, Veterinary Medicine Extension veterinarian emeritus, has coordinated the training and duties of as many as 50 veterinary students who work at the California State Fair taking turns around the clock in the popular State Fair Livestock Nursery.

This year, things start out early as the fair has changed its traditional end-of-summer schedule. The 2010 California State Fair opens Wednesday, July 14 and runs through Sunday, August 1. The Livestock Nursery is open Tuesday through Thursday noon-10 p.m. and Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. FREE with Fair admission.

Observe farm animals as they are born

At the State Fair Livestock Nursery exhibit, pregnant sheep, cows, pigs and goats are brought to the nursery. When an animal goes into labor, she is placed on a stage surrounded by bleachers to help the audience observe the birth process. Veterinary students stand ready to provide assistance to the mother throughout the labor. One student explains the process to the visitors and answers questions about the animals and their health. Dozens of calves, goat kids and lambs may be born during the fair.

Veterinary training

Students receive intensive training, learning how to properly examine the cows, goats and sheep, and how to interact with the public. Just before the fair begins, the students tour the fairgrounds and set up the nursery under the supervision of technical staff and student crew chiefs.

At the livestock nursery, veterinary students care for the mothers until they return home. The nursery is supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The students gain valuable large animal experience and develop client communications skills by making presentations and answering questions about the animals and their health.

School of Veterinary Medicine on Duty at the Fair

To protect the health of all the animals, veterinary students and clinicians perform health checks for all the fair animals in exhibits and competitions. These students also run a cow- and goat-milking tent and a butter-churning activity. Several students help out at "veterinary school," a hands-on science activity arranged for children aged 10-17.

The veterinary school provides other services, including drug residue testing on the animals for meat quality assurance.

Besides providing valuable training for veterinary students in normal births and client communications, the livestock nursery provides visitors the opportunity to learn about everyday life on the farm. 

It's a state fair tradition that remains as fresh as a newborn farm animal.

WHAT: California State Fair

WHERE: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento , CA 95815

WHEN: July 14-August 1, 2010

The Livestock Nursery is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon-10 p.m. and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. FREE with Fair admission.

WHERE: http://www.bigfun.org/info-maps.php