Vet joins ag department

The Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture now has two full time veterinarians.

New veterinarian Dr. Kanyuira G. Gikonyo started with the department in November and has already become familiar with livestock farmers who attended his session on farm food safety last week, stated a press release.

In his presentation, Dr. Gikonyo specified good practices related to all areas of food safety including feed, water, feeding facilities, equipment, housing, animal health and medicines.

Dr. Gikonyo’s presentation was part of a day-long workshop on the slaughtering and retail of local meats to coincide with the official opening of the new abattoir. As part of his new duties, Dr. Gikonyo is responsible for the abattoir and works closely with the Department of Environmental Health to ensure best practices during the slaughter of meat for sale.

‘I welcome the appointment of Dr. Gikonyo and believe that with his experience and background in similar government services, he will be an excellent complement to Dr. Wakelin,’ Chief Agricultural and Veterinary Officer Dr Alfred Benjamin said in the release.

‘Working together and with their staff they will increase and improve the veterinary and animal husbandry services that are available to the livestock producers and bring about more effective regulatory control that protects our animals and us from disease conditions that can come from live animals and/or food of animal origin.’

Raised in Kenya, Dr. Gikonyo developed experience as a farmer in arid conditions which are similar to the Caribbean. For the last 13 years he has worked in Antigua as a veterinarian, in the private sector and for government, where he was Chief Veterinary Officer for the past three years. While in Antigua, Dr. Gikonyu assisted in updating the national legislation on animal health, livestock and dog control and the Animal Disease Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Dr. Gikonyu came to the United States from Kenya in the 1980s where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland. Later he would earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University in Alabama and a Masters Degree in Public Health at Emory University in Georgia.

As a veterinary officer with the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Gikonyu works alongside Dr. Colin Wakelin to supervise the import and export of animals and animal products; conduct veterinary clinical services on livestock, horses and shelter animals; design, develop and implement animal related policy; manage animal control and welfare programs; coordinate livestock disease surveillance and control programs; manage and regulate operations of the abattoir; supervise and train technical staff; and advise livestock farmers on ways to improve animal husbandry practices.

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