15-vetEach year at the Minnesota State Fair, live births occur in the Miracle of Birth exhibit. During the 12 days of the fair about 200 calves, lambs and piglets will be born in front of a live audience. It’s fascinating, a little graphic and always an educational experience. The barn is a cooperative effort between the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and the FFA Association. The people working behind the scenes to make sure that the animals are safe, comfortable, and healthy are volunteer veterinarians, veterinary students and FFA members.

The goal of the Miracle of Birth exhibit is share the excitement of farm animal birth and animal agriculture with the public. Farmers and veterinarians work together to make sure that farm animals are healthy and comfortable, in addition to making sure that our food supply is safe. As of 2 pm on Wednesday, the number of animals born at the Minnesota State Fair Miracle of Birth exhibit was 132. There are still several animals waiting to give birth over the next few days. We can’t predict when the babies will arrive so be sure to stop in several times throughout the day to see a live birth.

As a veterinarian, I have been lucky enough to be part of the Miracle of Birth exhibit for the last 12 years. It’s always exciting to see kids learn and ask questions about farm animals and veterinary medicine. Minnesota is an agricultural state and sharing the knowledge of agriculture with the next generation of Minnesotans will help our state and economy grow. It’s also important for adults to be reminded of where our food comes from on occasion. It’s easy to forget that it’s not grown in the grocery store aisles, but is produced by hard-working farmers.

For me, the only other activity that might top the Miracle of Birth exhibit at the fair is eating, of course. So, what does a veterinarian eat at the fair? My first stop was at the Dairy Building to sneak a peek at the butter sculptures of Princess Kay of the Milky Way while waiting in line for a chocolate shake. The incredible ice cream is sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Association, which is a group working to promote Minnesota dairy farmers. While I was there I learned that Minnesota is the 7thlargest dairy producer in the country. Our local bovines produce 1,054 million gallons of milk, which is a bit more than Minnesotans can consume, even with Sweet Martha’s cookies close by. The milk is sold to other states and helps Minnesota’s economy. All that dairy production means jobs for farmers, milk truck drivers, dairy processors, cheese makers and lots of other Minnesotans.

Next on the menu is a Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich made by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA). If you haven’t tried it, drop everything and go directly to the MTGA Turkey to Go stand. The turkey sandwich was voted the best food at the fair in 2012. It’s a locally grown product and it is unbelievably delicious. Minnesota ranks #1 for turkey production and processing. We produce about 46 million birds a year which can only mean that there will be plenty of these incredible Giant Turkey Sandwiches for everyone waiting in line.

Now I’m off to find something with bacon…….