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VET ON CALL: Reflections on joy, trials of livestock agribusiness





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Today’s article is the last in 2018 and it marks two years of dedicated sharing of experiences with farmers on this page. In the course of the year, I received a lot of feedback from farmers who put to good use the information I shared and the advice I gave on specific cases.

It is encouraging and refreshing to know that farmers find the articles useful and they help them solve various challenges.

My write up today is motivated by the outcome of some of the articles I wrote.

The piece on gape worms in chickens (Seeds of Gold, September 29) has continued to elicit lots of reactions. This indicates that the problem is widespread especially in free-range and backyard chickens, but it is poorly documented. The good news is that farmers report good response to treatment with levermisole-based poultry dewormers.

Since many diseases make chickens cough and gape, I advise farmers suspecting the problem to seek the services of a licensed veterinary service provider to confirm the diagnosis. This is done by doing post-mortem on dead or selected birds and demonstrating the presence of the worms in the trachea.

The ravaging of pig farms in Kajiado, Kiambu and Murang’a by African Swine Fever (ASF) (Seeds of Gold, August 4) was a big setback to farmers. One farmer in Kajiado lost all his 400 pigs to the disease but he took it as an important lesson. The farmer reported restocking in November after revising his production methods. His main exposure to the disease had been sharing of feed supply with other farmers.

He put in place stringent biosecurity measures and started to acquire feeds on his own; and to stop all visits to his farm by outsiders. Preventing ASF outbreaks requires such measures since the disease has no vaccine or treatment. To worsen matters, all pigs in an infected herd must be destroyed.

I shared information on feeding pigs. One interesting feedback I got was from a farmer in Kirinyaga who was feeding his sow dairy meal and it was not thriving or producing enough milk. He had thought that since the sow had farrowed 14 piglets, dairy meal would help the animal to increase milk production like it does in cows.

Well, this farmer was on the wrong track. I advised him the similarity of cows and sows ends with the three common alphabets. The two species are miles apart in the anatomy and function of their digestive system and the way they handle nutrients in the body to produce milk. A sow, therefore, must be fed sow-and-weaner meal while the cow, dairy meal. His problem was that he was feeding too little sow-and-weaner to the mother of 14 piglets.

He was also worried about the pig’s weight loss. Weight loss in nursing pigs is a common occurrence especially for sows with large litters. A farmer should only be worried if the pig is not producing enough milk.


My articles on importing and exporting animals are still encouraging people to explore the trade. However, some people wade in without understanding the national and international requirements. In

November, I had an enquiry for an immediate import permit for slaughter cattle from Uganda that were already at the border. When I explained to the trader the process of importation, he realised he could never make any profit for the consignment he had.

The problem with his venture was that he had already bought the animals without doing calculations on the projected quantity of meat he was going to realise. He thought a 400kg cow would yield 350kg of meat. Actually, the estimated amount of meat should have been about 50 per cent of the live weight or 200kg. The trader informed me he decided to resell the animals in Uganda and restart the process now that he was enlightened.

Another case was export of cattle and camels to one of the African Indian Ocean Island nations. The trader had received an annual contract to supply about 1,000 beef cattle and 50 camels once every month. The order was good but the trader had not carefully considered the operational requirements for servicing such a large order. I advised him to remember that he had to take into account the sourcing of the animals, keeping the animals isolated, medically called quarantine and fattening the animals to the required weight and form.

In addition, the animals had to be tested and be found to be free of all the diseases stipulated in the import permit within a stated period. The trader was able to reschedule his contract to formulate a good plan of abiding by the export conditions for the cattle and camels.

The cases of circling goats and sheep in Kajiado, Mwingi and Machakos elicited plenty of feedback. As expected, animals already affected died but when the rest in the herd and dogs were treated for tapeworms, the problem has not recurred. Farmers must routinely deworm their dogs, sheep, goats and cattle with high quality dewormers that kill all types of worms.

The disease is caused by tapeworms that lodge in the brain and destroy tissues. The worms circulate between the dogs and livestock and sometimes may also affect humans. The adult worm lives in the intestines of the dog. It lays eggs that pass out in faeces to contaminate pastures and water. The eggs are swallowed by animals when grazing or drinking water. They hatch in the intestines. The immature worms burrow into the body tissues and form water filled balls in organs including the brain. When dogs ingest the immature worms in the meat of affected animals, the worms mature and the cycle continues.
Happy New Year


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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard




Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.


However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard




President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health




Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.


Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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