What a first week in Kenya! We arrived after a long day of travel and spent the first two nights at the ACK (Anglican Church of Kenya) which introduced us to our first few tastes of Kenyan food. To say the least, it did not disappoint. Despite the jet lag, we made our way to Sheldrick’s Elephant and Rhino Sanctuary as well as the Giraffe Manner for an up close and personal experience with a couple of Africa’s wild animals.
In doing so we learned about the amazing conservation efforts for these species. Being drenched by the African rains gave us an excuse (not that we needed it) to go check out the local shops and purchase some handmade authentic garments in addition to working on our non-existent bartering skills. Spending time in Nairobi was the perfect transition into our soon-to-be Kenyan lifestyle.
The next day we set off for our final destination, Meru County, where we will be staying for the duration of the summer. On the way “home”, we stopped by the Wakulima Dairy to tour their modernized facility which was developed through extensive collaboration with Farmers Helping Farmers over the past twenty years. It gave us a good reference point for the potential of smaller Dairies for further development under the guidance of this foundation. For example, Wakulima began processing 300 litres of milk/day, improving to a whopping 50 000 litres/day! They have extensive training, diverse employment strategies, and offer incentives to their cooperative farmers in an ongoing effort to produce high quality milk for consumers. After the impressive tour, we finally arrived at our home for the summer and were eager to get unpacked and settled. Late that evening we were joined by our final team member, PhD student Daniel Muasya, whom we will be assisting with a BVDV- Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus- immunization study, along with training farmers on best management practices.
Over the next three months farmers of the Naari or Buuri Dairy Cooperatives will enable us to study the impact of vaccinating against BVDV. To achieve this, the farmers will be answering questionnaires and allowing us to examine their herd, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. During the first two days in Meru County we were warmly welcomed by the chairmen of each Dairy. We discussed project details with them and their associates before heading out to the farms. And that is where we come in J. We are gaining valuable hands-on experience through the implementation of physical exams of the local cows.
Dr. John with Hanna taking the heart rate of a heifer
This week alone we did multiple CMT tests aiding in the diagnosis of our first case of systemic mastitis treated with intravenous antibiotics
Chantel finishing a successful antibiotic intravenous infusion
We also did multiple rectal exams to confirm various stages of pregnancy or lack thereof, as well as overall health status and management assessments. We saw a case of sciatic nerve damage as well as a mold toxicosis likely due to poor feed management.
Overall, the Kenyan farmers have been very accommodating and have shown their gratitude with gifts from their gardens. If this week is any indication, we have much to look forward to.
Chantel and Hanna with ‘ol faithful: The Gypsy