Cow birthing simulator used to educate Oklahoma State Fair visitors


By Xcaret Nuñez and Kateleigh Mills, KOSU (OK)

September 21, 2022


Fairgoers can visit a life-like cow birth simulator at the Oklahoma State Fair and learn how veterinarians and livestock producers help heifers and cows through difficult births.


Beyond thrilling rides and mouth-watering fair food, the Oklahoma State Fair showcases agricultural exhibits for fairgoers to learn from and enjoy.


Oklahoma State University Extension’s display of its Hereford Dystocia Simulator is one example of an educational opportunity available to visit at the fair. The life-like beef cow device, made out of rubber and fiberglass, is used to simulate difficult births in cows.


Dr. Barry Whitworth, a veterinarian and food and animal quality specialist with OSU’s Extension, recognizes the help heifers and cows sometimes need when giving birth, especially through difficult deliveries, is often unavailable. He said the calving simulator has been a valuable tool to provide student veterinarians and livestock producers the hands-on experience necessary to prepare for a cow’s labor.


“The nice thing about this simulator is that we can open it up, look inside it and show them how calves can be positioned inside,” Whitworth said. “We can pretty much simulate the type of issues you might have to deal with when you have a dystocia cow.”


Heifers and cows need help giving birth about 10% of the time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not knowing how to help a cow going through abnormal labor, such as a breeched birth, could cost livestock producers hundreds of dollars. So large-animal veterinarians and producers often work together to deliver a calf safely.


Whitworth said he hopes fairgoers can come away with more understanding of what goes into producing beef after visiting the calving simulator display.


“It’s no secret that most people nowadays have no clue where their food comes from,” Whitworth said. “So it’s always nice to get out into public and show them about what goes on in the reproductive cycle in cattle and the people that are producing that food for them.”


A Cow’s Delivery Process ...


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