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Davis, California

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Live birthing in California unacceptable

Remember the pregnant cow and her unborn calf who were gunned down at the 2010 State Fair? After being pursued by an SUV, she was ordered shot by a UC Davis veterinarian, who referred to the distraught animal as a “nutjob.”

Despite great public outcry, these abusive “birthing” exhibits continue. The baby calves are separated from their mothers at birth, never even allowed to nurse. Worse still are the pregnant sows imprisoned in those god-awful farrowing crates for three weeks, unable to move and forced to give birth on a metal grid, before gawking crowds and nightly fireworks. An Animal Auschwitz, as it were.

Most state fairs do not allow birthing exhibits (Texas, Oregon, Colorado, etc.), due to animal welfare concerns. Every veterinary study I’ve seen opposes the transport of animals about to give birth, noting the animals’ need for solitude, away from noisy crowds and bright lights.

Suggestion: Drop the cow and sow birthing exhibits, but keep those featuring sheep and goats. The latter, at least, are allowed to stay with their young in deep straw and seem far less stressed than the cows and sows. Instead, display cows and sows with their eight to ten week-old young. THIS is what the public wants to see, not the actual birthing process itself, which can be traumatic for all concerned.

Please express your concerns to the UC Davis veterinarians, the State Fair General Manager & CEO, Norbert Bartosik, and the CalEXPO Board of Directors: 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, CA  95815. E-mail: calexpoboard@calexpo.com.

Eric Mills


  1. The insensitivity of live birthing exhibits can only be described as grotesque. As a mother – one who has gone through the whole “birthing” experience – I can’t even fathom enduring the stress and trauma of giving birth in the noise, crowding and chaos of the state fair. Labor and delivery are already painful and stressful enough.

    Just as we have evolved enough to ban freak shows from such events, so it’s time to end live birthing exhibits.


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