Everyone knows the Fair is great place to see animals big and small. But just how many animals are there? How are they cared for? And where exactly do they go to the bathroom? We’re revealing these facts and more as we share five surprises about animals at The Great New York State Fair. (If you want to see these cute animals—plus a lot more!—buy your advance sale tickets today.)
The Fair houses 10,000 animals over 13 days
The Great New York State Fair has a total of 10,000 animals during the 13 days of the Fair! Because there are so many—sheep, goats, cows, you name it—the Fair’s agricultural team must rotate out our four-legged friends.
For example, dairy cattle are at the Fair for 5-6 days before going home. Beef cattle, however, change out every four days (and are also tied out at night for fresh air). In addition, sheep are rotated every 3-5 days and llamas are only at the Fair for the first four days before leaving. That way, our piggy pals (aka swine) have a place to stay. But rest easy—there will be mama pigs (sows) with piglets for all 13 days!
After every shift of animals, the ag team disinfects and re-beds the barn before the next group arrives at the Fair. Fun fact: The poultry barn is the only barn where all the animals, poultry, rabbits and cavies stay the full 13 days. Be sure to check our agriculture page to find out when the animals move in and out so you don’t miss your favorites! Also, note that our barns must close for safety purposes during the shift.
Each Fair barn has its own staff and veterinarians
Every single Fair barn is run by a superintendent specifically trained in a certain species. And some barn have up to 35 staff members to care for the animals. All are trained in the animals they care for, and they want to answer your questions! For example, our experts know about the different breeds, necessary bedding, nutrition and feed for their animals. In addition, many animal owners are on site. Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, swine, goat and llama owners feed and care for their own animals.
As for poultry, guinea pigs and rabbits, the owners depend completely on the Fair’s agriculture team to be sure they’re cared for. The Fair provides provisions for the 13 days, feeding the animals and cleaning their surroundings. The Fair also provides two semi-trucks of clean shavings, sawdust and bark to ensure clean and dry bedding for all animal pens. Heads-up: If you see a duck without water, it’s because they’re constantly playing with their water dish! Ducks are watered 4-6 times daily, but as soon as they get access to water, they splish-splash it away.
The safety and health of the animals is the Fair agricultural team’s #1 priority. With Cornell vets on site 24/7 and state vets at the Fair every single day, we ensure each animal is healthy and well. That includes daily walkthroughs by both the Cornell and state vets to oversee barn conditions (in addition to their regular care). Also, before an animal enters a barn, the state vet examines them for disease and vaccinations. Owners must provide a certificate indicating that the animal has been seen by a vet in addition to the examination by a vet on site.
The Fair has special contracts for manure removal
10,000 animals produce a lot of manure. The Fair team hires a specific cleaning crew with special equipment (sometimes payloaders and dump trucks, in the case of our dairy cows!).
Some of the animals, such as llamas, will only go to the bathroom in one spot. Their owners train them to do their duty in the manure pit, and they won’t mess up their beds or stalls. However, everyone else goes as they please! Then, owners and the Fair team clean up after them, moving manure into a larger pit by each of the barns.
Afterward, at night, the Fair contracts with a special company that removes all the manure—except for cattle’s. Dairy cows go so much at the Fair that the team needs four hours of huge payloaders and dump trucks coming in and out to keep it pristine!
Competitions aren’t just for professionals
If you can think it, the Fair has a competition for it. The rooster-crowing competition is a special favorite of fairgoers—because you can be the judge! Every single day at noon, willing fairgoers are assigned a rooster and it’s their job to count how much they crow within a set amount of time. Then, on Labor Day, the winning roosters compete to be crowned Grand Champion.
Other competitions include forage grain, fleece quality, milk production (for goats and cows), bunny hopping, hay-bale throwing, spinning (turning sheep fur into a shawl), leaping llamas, sheep and goat colors (the best-painted animal wins), and more.
Fairgoers can interact with animals (at certain times)
Fairgoers can milk a goat, lead a calf, hold a baby chick and more. In fact, if fairgoers attend the Fair on Monday, August 27, they have the special opportunity to participate in Angora Day. Watch as handlers shave the (giant) bunnies, weave the fur and make angora products right in front of everyone, creating mittens, wraps and shawls for purchase.
The Fair’s Dairy Cow Birthing Center also is a popular exhibit—but did you know there are four different farmers who bring in cows for 3-4 days so there’s a high chance a calf will be born every single day at the Fair? If you’d like to see a cow being born, head down to the Birthing Center and provide your cell phone number to be alerted when it’s about to happen. Afterward, be sure to go to the dairy barn and see the cows being milked. Then go to the Dairy Products Building to enjoy cheese, ice cream and more!
If you can’t get enough Fair facts, listen to the first episode of this year’s All’s Fair podcast. The Fair team talks to Agriculture Manager Mel Chesboro, swaps stories on the Fair’s Pride Day and reveals a special instrument at the Art & Home Center.