Agnes the cow is a huge hit at Agribition this year. The two-year-old Hereford heifer is a realistic birthing simulator to show people how a calf is born.
“We’ve had a full house every time we’ve done this demonstration,” said Carolyn Cartwright, a registered veterinary technologist at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCMV).
Cartwright is also the manager of the BJ Hughs Centre at WCMV. She said the college and Agribition partnered up this year to provide Agnes as a teaching tool for those who may not be able to see calving in real life. It also gives the students at WCMV the chance to practice the birthing process.
The simulator didn’t come cheap as Cartwright said Agnes is worth around $50,000.
Cartwright said it’s amazing how realistic the man-made cow really is.
“Her uterus inside she’s got a bag in there that the calf lives in and so the calf sits way down in the abdomen just like it would normally,” she said. “We have to bring it up and bring it into the birth canal – it’s very realistic.”
Agnes stands just about four and a half feet tall and is about six and a half feet long. She added Agnes also has realistic udders. The presenters are able to pour fake milk into the four chambers to give the person milking Angus a real hands-on experience.
Cartwright said the simulator is great for public education about the different techniques used when the cow is calving.
“In particular one of the things we do when we’re calving is sometimes we have to use chains on their feet to get them out because they’re slippery and wet with the amniotic fluid,” she said.
“With social media sometimes people can take a picture (of the chains and think it’s bad) and (people should know) we’re not hurting the calf — so it’s good for them to see that whole process.”
She said at the end of the day they’re just aiding the heifer to birth the calf and to make sure it’s born safely and so that mom is safe and healthy as well.
With it being the first year Agribition has had Agnes it’s no surprise how popular she is. Cartwright said at times she’s even seen the Agribition directors and CEO’s come to watch a presentation.
The kids’ facial expressions can also be a treat to watch.
“We’ve even had some people that are in their senior years that have come up (to us) and say I’ve never seen a calf been born my whole life and just that it gave them a really good experience,” Cartwright said.
Agnes the cow and her calf can be found in the Family Ag Pavilion at Agribition until Saturday.