Week 3 with the Vet Team in Kenya


By Lee Wesselius

Hello everyone. We had quite the eventful last week. It’s my turn to provide the summary. The week started with a relaxing weekend visiting the Ol Pejeta conservation park where we had the opportunity to see many different types of animals. We stayed in tented rooms that were within 50 meters of the area where the animals could freely roam which led to us having an amazing view of a rhino nursing its young in front of us one evening. We went on a safari drive and saw many different animals such as lions, elephants and giraffes all in their natural habitats. Unfortunately, we just missed out on seeing a cheetah.


A baby rhino nursing

After doing some of our herd health management advice visits on farms on Monday,  we travelled to the nearby Buuri dairy on Tuesday and met with a few members of the board. The vet and nutrition teams will be working more with the Buuri group in the future, along with a program evaluation team.

As part of our trip to Buuri, we collected blood samples from the coccygeal vein (tail vein) or the jugular vein from a representative group of cattle in different zones. The blood samples will then be analyzed in Nairobi for presence of Bovine Viral Diarrhea virus (BVDV) and antibody, a common virus in Canada that can lead to abortions, pneumonia, diarrhea and other problems. This was a great experience for Ashley and me, as I have only done a few blood collections on cows, and it was the first time for Ashley.

lee taking blood with doctor john

Myself and Dr. John collecting a blood sample


On Wednesday, we travelled to several farms in the Naari region to administer a vaccine for BVDV, Bovine Respiratory Syncitial virus (BRSV), Parainfluenza-3 (PI3) and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR). This injection is given subcutaneously (under the skin), by tenting the skin and inserting the needle in the raised area. In the afternoon, we had a meeting with some board members of the Naari dairy as Dr. John was leaving the next day.

doctor john bleeding calf

Dr.John taking a blood sample

The next day, we said our goodbyes to Dr.John as he was leaving to begin his travels home, which left Ashley, Dr.Remmy and I to fend for ourselves. On our very first farm, we encountered a cow with milk fever. Milk fever occurs right after parturition when the need for calcium increases and the cow is unable to match this increase. This leads to the cow lying flat out and unable to stand. Right before we arrived, a vet tech had already treated the animal by giving the animal an IV injection of calcium and a subcutaneous calcium injection to increase the calcium levels. The IV injection will lead to a quick increase in blood calcium levels, while the subcutaneous injection will be slowly absorbed. Since there wasn’t much we could do at that time, we carried on with our herd health management advice visits on farms that did not have a personal farm visit through our project yet. We came back to the milk fever farm in the afternoon to check on the cow and get it up so that she wouldn’t get muscle damage from lying down too long.

doctor john saying goodbye

Dr. John waving goodbye

On Friday, Ashley and I had the opportunity to accompany the Naari dairy vet tech Benard on several clinical cases. We saw a case of East Coast Fever and a case of Anaplasmosis. Two diseases transmitted by ticks that are commonly seen in Kenya but not in Canada. Benard also bred a few cows by AI and dehorned a cow using a dehorning wire.

This was the first opportunity for Ashley and I to witness dehorning using this method. We also visited a farm that had over 50 cows and was milking around 30 of them. The farm used milking equipment for milking the cows (not by hand like most places here), and had tractors for the field work. For Kenyan standards, this was a large farm as most farms we visit only contain a handful of cows.

All in all, we had quite an eventful and enjoyable week. Stay tuned for next week’s blog from the vet team…

vet team in the gypsy

Ashley, our driver Ndereba, myself and Benard off on some calls




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