This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday adventures

I did not do any Black Friday shopping this year. We had some out-of-town visitors who had not seen Fair Oaks Farms recently, so we headed out there. I was very curious to see how much progress was being made on the new restaurant that is being constructed just to the south of the visitors' center. There is not much to see yet, but a couple of concrete trucks were pouring foundations while I was there.
 We hopped aboard the dairy bus and saw the dairy operation. If you have ever taken that tour, you will recognize the picture below.
 Then it was on to a Pig Adventure bus.
 I had seen the Pig Adventure last summer, so most of it was familiar. There were more pigs in the wing where they grow the pigs from piglets to gilts. The very young pigs were frisky and seemed to be either sleeping, fighting, or trying to nurse from each other. They must have been very recently weaned.
 The Pig Adventure is full of funny facts. One other fact I learned is that when the baby male pigs are four days old, they have a small procedure done that turns them into barrows.
 After an hour or two at the Pig Adventure, we returned to the Visitors' Center. Some kids were having a lot of run climbing a wall with magnetic gloves and shoes.
 Then it was off to the Birthing Barn, which has some funny art work.
We saw one pretty normal delivery. The front hooves emerge first, and then for a while you can also see the tongue of the calf sticking out. Finally the momma cow give a big push and expels the head, and then the rest of the body follows pretty quickly.
 About five percent of the births need some assistance and we saw one of those. I wondered if the calf would live, but although it was exhausted by the ordeal of birth, it seemed to be doing OK after the mother licked it for a while. Cows instinctively lick their calves and the licking stimulates them to get up and start nursing.
I have a son-in-law that has considerable experience helping cows deliver. He has aided cows in this situation many times.

Fair Oaks Farms uses a lot of arm-length plastic gloves, both in the dairy farms and in the pig farm. My daughter informs me that reaching up into a cow's private parts is warm and gooey.

For some previous posts about Fair Oaks Farms, see here, here, here and here. (Plus there are others.)

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