#LaborLive Birthing FAQ

posted: 08/21/14

Labor Live broadcasts LIVE from the Nebraska State Fair's Birthing Pavilion from August 22 until Labor Day on September 1. To capture incredible live birthing moments and adorable animal antics, Animal Planet placed cameras in the facility to give you an entertaining and educational experience unlike any other. But while you watch, a few questions may cross your mind about exactly what's happening before your eyes. Here are some frequently asked questions to get you started.

What types of births will I see on the camera?

We have our cameras placed in prime positions to film the births of lambs and calves. Over the course of the fair, we expect to see multiple births occur for these species. When no animals are in labor, you will have the chance to see recently hatched chicks and newborn piglets.

What are lambings and calvings?

Lambing is the process of a sheep giving birth. Likewise, a calving is the labor process of a cow. These terms are also used to refer to the actions taken by people assisting with calf and lamb births.

How long are cows and sheep pregnant?

The average gestation period of a cow is 9 months. For sheep, it is about 147 days or 5 months.

How can you tell when a birth is about to occur?

All of the animals have an estimated due date based on the species' gestational period, but the fair's veterinary team can identify cows and sheep going into labor by looking for certain behavioral and physical changes.

Briefly, some signs vets look for are:

  • decreased appetite
  • isolation from other sheep or cows
  • contractions and general discomfort
  • increased vocalization or bleating for sheep
  • frequent pawing at the ground for sheep in order to create a soft nesting spot to give birth

Just like humans, a birth is imminent when an animals' 'water' breaks. Just before it bursts, you may see a fluid-filled membrane sac called a waterbag hanging outside of the sheep or cow. Once this appears it is a good indication that the first birth could happen sometime in the next few minutes to a few hours. Next you'll start to see the hooves and head start to emerge meaning the baby is on its way!

How long does it take for a chicken egg to hatch?

Chicks hatch after approximately 21 days of incubation at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They break out of their shells using a temporary egg tooth on the end of their beak. It is sharp and perfect for cracking through the surface of an egg in a process called pipping.

How many piglets are born in a single litter?

A litter of piglets is called a farrow. On average, a sow (female pig) gives birth to 7 to 12 piglets per litter.

Is Labor Live suitable for my entire family to watch?

Due to the nature of labor, things can get messy and at times graphic. Therefore, this live stream may not be suitable for younger viewers and individuals who may get squeamish. If this is of concern to you, we suggest blocking the Labor Live page for you and your family. However, live births occur only during a portion of the time. When there is not a labor in progress, the camera will focus on other animals including expectant mothers and baby animals.

My question isn't listed here. Is there another way to learn more about live births and ask questions?

Yes, there's so much to learn during Labor Live so we do have other ways to get information about live births. We encourage you to watch the cam and listen to the veterinarians' birthing explanations and daily commentary about occurrences at the fair. We also have live Vet Talks each day to give birth updates and animal facts.

Note: Chats and other scheduled events are subject to change should a live birth occur at that time.

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