2016 Kenyan Smallholder Dairy Health Management project a success

Submitted by Dr. John VanLeeuwen, Health Management
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
AVC veterinary student Alden West and Kenyan veterinary students Titus Kinaru and Emily Kilonzi

The 2016 Farmers Helping Farmers-AVC senior veterinary student trip was a resounding success, with over 600 smallholder dairy farmers receiving education and services in health management and over 550 animals individual treatments or health management interventions. Another 150 animals were treated for identified health problems.

As well, four Kenyan veterinary students (Titus Kinaru, Emily Kilonzi, Vivian Sciina, and Edward Kariuki), three AVC students (Alden West, Amanda Alexandre, and Jessie MacQuarrie), and many animal health personnel received clinical training in the treatment and health management of dairy cattle on smallholder farms.

During the first week, the team was joined by veterinarians Drs. Bill Hazen and Shauna Richards, supported by Vets without Borders-Canada, to provide additional training on how to handle veterinary problems in the Kenyan context.

The major health problems observed included infectious diseases (over 20 cases of East Coast Fever and 13 coughing cattle), parasite infestations, udder infections, and insufficient nutrition, leading to low milk production, poor reproduction, and inadequate growth. We also saw numerous eye and skin problems, many reproductive checks, and miscellaneous conditions.

The Canadian and Kenyan veterinary students exchanged information on their respective countries and the great challenges of international development work, self-sustainability, veterinary medicine, and producing and marketing milk in poor, remote areas of Kenya, along with new techniques and theories of dairy cattle health management.

“It is always an incredible experience in Kenya working in partnership with the Kenyan people for improvements in sustainable livelihoods,” says Dr. John VanLeeuwen, professor of epidemiology and ruminant health management at AVC.  “They do so much with so little, and are so appreciative of what we offer, despite living in poverty. This attitude and love of life certainly helps us to put things in the right perspective, and to really appreciate what we have in Canada. I don’t complain about Canadian potholes or traffic jams anymore—not after some very bumpy Kenyan backroads (complete with moon craters) and a five-hour traffic jam!”

Various veterinary pharmaceutical companies, including Bimeda, Boehringer, Merck, and Vetoquinol, provided products for the project, which enabled the veterinary team to provide suitable treatments for the animals that they encountered. The team appreciated the financial support from Merck and members of the Atlantic cattle and veterinary community, including veterinary clinics in Baddeck, Cornwall, and Montague; animal hospitals in Berwick, Sackville, and Shediac; Downsview Vet Hospital, Douglas Animal Hospital, Fundy Vets, Ross Vet Services, PEI Holstein Association, and Drs. Marc Verschoor and Martha Sweeting.

Thank you again to all our supporters for your assistance in making this all possible.

Anna MacDonald
AVC External Relations Officer
Atlantic Veterinary College
(902) 566-6786
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