Farm Babies: UF’s Livestock Births have Begun
Spring doesn’t officially start until March 20, but there are signs of it throughout The University of Findlay’s 31,000-square-foot Dr. C. Richard Beckett Animal Science Building, located at the Western Farm just south of the city.
Nestled next to their mothers and on these cold winter days and frolicking when they’re ready are newborn sheep, pigs and goats. Click here to watch some in action. Soon, cattle will begin to calve.
The births are a part of the regular cycle of life that provides plenty of educational opportunities for students studying animal science and pre-veterinary medicine, said Dr. Farabee McCarthy, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the University’s animal science program.
Sometimes births coincide with classes at the farm. McCarthy said the mothers usually don’t need assistance during labor, and “usually go off by themselves,” but observation is possible.
“The process they (mothers) go through actually has an impact on their natural instincts,” he said. “Their hormone levels are higher and there’s a connection with the natural mothering instincts.”
If labor is taking too long, though, instructors sometimes step in, he said.
Even security personnel play an integral part.
“We have security workers who are there until about 5 or 6 a.m. Part of what they do is go through all the barns and look for anything that might be unusual,” said McCarthy. “The employees know where the pregnant ones are. If they see something happen, one of the barn managers is on call.”
The animals usually give birth to more than 150 at the center in the fall and late winter through early spring, said McCarthy.
Livestock lessons teach students how to care for and treat with animals of varying species and ages, including the newborns, the latter of which involve tasks such as vaccinating and weighing. The University’s hands-on learning methods, which reinforce its experiential learning mission, begin freshmen year.