UC Davis Today: Veterinary care at the State Fair

Three women holding two kids and a nanny goat

Veterinary care at the State Fair

Few things are cuter than a newborn piglet, goat, calf or lamb, which makes the School of Veterinary Medicine Livestock Nursery a popular exhibit at the California State Fair.

The public can attend the fair, held at Cal Expo in Sacramento, through July 28.

Located in a School of Veterinary Medicine tent next to the Cal Expo's Livestock Pavilion, the nursery provides families with memorable fair experiences and inspires youngsters to pursue careers in veterinary medicine or farming.

"Our participation is a great way for veterinary students to share our education with the public and gives fair visitors a wonderful opportunity to learn something new about livestock and baby animals," says fourth-year veterinary student Amanda Plunkett.

Beyond the organization of the nursery and hand-milking exhibits, UC Davis also provides the following services at the fair:

  • health checks for incoming livestock and daily checks thereafter,
  • on-call veterinary services for sick or injured livestock,
  • referral veterinary services for animals that require hospitalization,
  • veterinary services for the rodeos,
  • recruitment of staffers for veterinary exhibits, and
  • management of budget and supplies.

Leading the way for UC Davis is veterinary faculty member Joannie Rowe, a 30-year veteran specializing in the preventive health care and reproduction of cattle, goats, sheep and pigs.

Joining her are fellow teaching hospital clinicians Bret McNabb and Catalina Cabrera. This team instructs students about livestock reproduction, obstetrics and herd health.

At the fair, a trained crew of veterinary and animal science students — numbering in the dozens — gains important experience for not only their studies, but also   for their future careers.

Supervised by the veterinary faculty and technicians, these students rotate responsibilities of animal care, milking, butter making and animal examinations. They also make public presentations about what's happening in the nursery and answer questions about animal breeds, reproduction and related topics.

Second-year UC Davis veterinary students (from left) Karen Sorenson and Tara Urbano, with volunteer Kate Lee, handle a nanny goat and her 1-day-old twin kids in the nursery.  Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo

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