This year's Hancock County Fair will feature the birth of two litters of piglets.

This year's Hancock County Fair will feature the birth of two litters of piglets.

As fair-goers watch, two sows, or female hogs, will give birth during the first days of the fair, one on Wednesday and one today.

The sows and their piglets will be on display in the new Legacy Pavilion throughout the fair.

Sow-and-litter displays are relatively new to county fairs in Ohio, but have been a hit at other fairs this season, according to Hancock County pork producer Dwayne Stateler and county Farm Bureau President Gary Wilson.

They said hog farmers have sows' "due dates" down to an exact date. The average gestation period for a sow is three months, three weeks and three days. The sows may go into labor at any time, but they may be induced if labor doesn't begin by noon on their "due date."

Labor will begin within an hour after induction. The average litter size is 12 piglets, weighing about 3 pounds each.

The delivery will be televised on close-captioned TV in the pavilion, and will be played on a loop during the fair.

Stateler and Wilson said they hope the display helps dispel some myths about the mistreatment of farm animals. The display will be a learning opportunity for those from outside the farming community, they said.

"Somehow, we've got to get people to understand that every farmer, if they're going to be profitable, the animals have to be comfortable and happy. If they're not happy and comfortable, they're not going to produce -- they're not going to lay eggs, they're not going to give milk, they're not going to grow, they're not going to have healthy births," Wilson said.

While the sows' pens may appear to restrict their movement, the enclosures are designed to keep the piglets from being squashed by their 350-pound mom when she lays down to rest or nurse. The new mothers are kept as comfortable as possible.

"This is no different than what's going on in the barns" at hog farms, Stateler said.

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