A 600-pound Yorkshire pig lets out a big yawn as she's suckled by her 8-day-old piglets at the California State Fair's Livestock Nursery. At right, Blanca Camacho, a second year veterinary student at UC Davis, makes notes. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

Local News

Livestock Nursery offers a peek at nature’s miracles

By From page A1 | July 21, 2013

SACRAMENTO — City folk and country folk alike are checking out the animals at the California State Fair’s Livestock Nursery.

In coordination with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the Livestock Nursery features a variety of goats, sheep, pigs and cows, along with their newborns. Students from the veterinary school are present in every corner of the nursery to provide information and answer questions.

“They could give birth at any time,” Haley Collins told a group of guests. Collins, a first-year veterinary student at UCD, is working with the Holstein cows at the fair this year. The nursery already had seen at least five births through Thursday, and that’s only among the cows.


Check it out


What: California State Fair


When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m.-midnight Friday through Sunday, through July 28


Where: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento


How much: $12 general, $10 seniors, $8 youths 5-12, free for kids 4 and under; parking is $10


Info: www.bigfun.org

Local donors provide the animals for the State Fair exhibit.

 “(The cows) all come from local farms and they are used in the local dairy industry,” Collins explained.  These donors provide animals with due dates that coincide with the State Fair so the public may have an opportunity to see what goes into a live animal birth.

Lucky visitors not only have the opportunity to see a birth, but there are a plethora of newborn animals throughout the fair’s run. Emma Hows, 9, got to see her favorite animals, the piglets.

“I like the baby pigs,” she said. “They’re just so small!”

Hows’ grandfather, Dave Carlson, added, “We always love to see the animals; the kids love ’em.” 

The pig corner of the Livestock Nursery features two sows, one suckled by 10 piglets who were born on July 10. The other sow was due to give birth on July 15, but the big moment hadn’t come as of Thursday.

“We’re definitely on piglet watch,” said Blanca Camacho, a second-year veterinary student.

Another animal featured at the Livestock Nursery is the Jacob sheep. Originating from Syria, these sheep have a unique speckled coat and dark skin. Jacob sheep lambs, only a day or two old, can be seen playing in the enclosure.

The Livestock Nursery also provides hands-on activities such as making butter. Katherine Marcil, a second-year veterinary student, was running the booth on Thursday.

“It’s a nice way for children to find out where their food comes from,” she said.

Marcil gives guests small containers of heavy whipping cream that they can churn into butter. Dozens of children can be seen around the Livestock Nursery shaking their containers to make butter by hand.

Guests also may milk a cow or goat. Nico Garcia, 8, and his friend Caleb Thuotte, 8, milked a goat for the first time Thursday. As he stepped down from the goat milking area, Nico grinned and said, “It was really great and cool! It felt like a squishy water balloon.”

Taji Sperber and her daughters also visited the milking exhibit at the nursery. “We come every year,” Sperber said. “The baby animals are always a big hit.”

The Sperber family, like many other guests, walked away with a smile and a pink sign with the words “I milked a goat!”

Felicia Alvarez

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