ESCANABA - This is the first year the the Miracle of Life has its own building at the U.P. State Fair. The pavilion features cows, pigs and sheep who are pregnant or have just given birth and their offspring. All of the livestock featured at the Miracle of Life Birthing Pavilion are raised by local farmers.
"They bring them as a display for the public, so they understand a little bit more as to what farm life entails," said Renee Coyer, veterinarian at Thompson Veterinary Clinic in Manistique, and co-chair of the Miracle of Life with fellow veterinarian, Gail Hoholik. Unlike cows and pigs who have frequent gestation periods and can be impregnated at various times of the year, sheep have a five-month ovulation cycle and typically give birth in May.
"We have one person who owns the sheep herd specifically for the Miracle of Life. We breed them to all lamb during this week and people can get an understanding as to what happens in the lambing process," said Coyer. "We change their ovulation cycle for them to be lambing during this time of the year. It's different fertile influences that we we just change things up a little bit so we can get them into this exhibit," she added.
ant in August does not present the same challenges. "A dairy herd wants cows milking at all times of the year so they are are just scheduled that when they calf they go into the milking cycle," said Coyer.
Despite the rural nature of the Upper Peninsula, many U.P. residents have never been on a farm. The Breakfast on the Farm event, sponsored Michigan State University Extension and the VanDrese Dairy and Potato Farm in Cornell, last month drew more than 2,000 people. Only 43 percent had ever visited a farm before.
The Miracle of Life Pavilion also gives future veterinarians from Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine a chance to get experience.
"We have eight vet students... They're working different shifts all throughout the day," said student Allen Mergener, originally from McMillan.
"Vet school is four years long and we have two-and-a-half years of classroom work and a year-and-a-half of clinicals, so everyone here has not gotten into their clinical phase," he added.
The Miracle of Life Pavilion is located on the east side of the fairgrounds and is open daily throughout the week.