How to keep livestock healthy

  • Access the Veterinary Services Program for farmers
  • Herd or flock health visits
  • Biosecurity
  • Livestock diseases
  • Livestock health handbooks and workshops
  1. Access the Veterinary Services Program for farmers

    The Government of Yukon helps farmers get veterinary care for livestock they raise for food or fibre.

    The Veterinary Services Program:

    • pays the veterinarian directly for eligible fees up to $1000 per farm premises per fiscal year;
    • is free for farmers to enrol; and
    • has limited funds and these are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis each fiscal year.

     

    If you enrolled your farm in the program you will be automatically renewed.

    Eligible veterinary service fees include:

    • veterinarian travel costs to the farm;
    • professional services or farm call fees for emergencies or individual animal care;
    • phone consultations;
    • herd or flock health visits to address general health concerns and management plans; and
    • biosecurity assessment and recommendations.

     

    Farmers pay for:

    • drugs and other treatments;
    • vaccines; and
    • laboratory costs for testing samples.

     

    Eligible livestock species are:

    • bison;
    • cattle (beef or dairy);
    • elk;
    • fish;
    • goats;
    • llamas and alpacas;
    • poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, quail);
    • rabbits raised for meat;
    • sheep;
    • swine; and
    • yaks.

     

    Livestock owners with 6 or fewer poultry are eligible for up to $250 of coverage. Horses are not covered because they’re not raised for food in Yukon.

    Apply for the Veterinary Services Program

    1. Complete the Premises Identification account application.
    2. Submit the completed form to agriculture@gov.yk.ca.
    3. You will receive a Premises Identification (PID) number within two working days.
    4. Complete the Veterinary Services Program enrolment form. Include your PID number.
    5. Submit the enrolment form:
      Email: animalhealth@gov.yk.ca
      In person: 10 Burns Road, Whitehorse. Our office is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
      Fax: 867-393-6263
      Mail:
      Government of Yukon
      Animal Health Unit (V-7)
      Box 2703
      Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6

     

    We will contact you by phone or email to confirm your enrolment.

    After a veterinarian visits your farm

    Your statement will show the amount billed to the Veterinary Services Program. We will deduct this from your $1,000 annual allowance.

    If you haven't enrolled but need a veterinarian

    For an emergency veterinarian visit, ask to have an enrolment package delivered on the farm visit. If we get your enrolment within 7 days of the visit, we will pay these costs.

  2. Herd or flock health visits

    Herd or flock health visits let you work with a veterinarian to evaluate:

    • animal health concerns; and
    • management activities.

     

    Herd or flock health visits can take from an hour to half a day, depending on the size of your farm.

    During a herd health visit, you and the veterinarian will work together to evaluate:

    • animals;
    • the farm environment; and
    • farm records.

     

    The veterinarian can help you develop a health program specific to your farm called a herd or flock health program. These programs aim to:

    • provide a high level of animal care; and
    • reduce losses from management problems or disease.

     

    Herd health programs are designed specifically for individual farms and may include plans for:

    • feeding and nutrition management;
    • housing and pasture management;
    • vaccination and parasite control;
    • disease treatment;
    • cleaning and disinfection;
    • reproductive management;
    • biosecurity and food safety; and
    • recordkeeping systems.

     

    Why are health visits important?

    • Improve the health and production of your animals.
    • Minimize the effects of disease and production-limiting conditions on your animals.
    • Allow you to compare animal production records.
    • Allows continuous improvement over time.
    • Provide veterinary expertise for improvement of farm management practices including:
      • nutrition;
      • housing; and
      • biosecurity.
    • Establish the veterinarian's relationship with the client and patient. This is needed for the veterinarian to prescribe drugs for farm animals.
    • Increase the value of future veterinary visits.
    • Give the veterinarian a better understanding of your farm.
    • Let a veterinarian observe your animals in their home environment. This plays an important role in their overall health.

     

    Arrange and prepare for a health visit

    Get the most out of your herd or flock health visit with a few simple steps:

    • contact a veterinarian to schedule an appointment and ask if they have any special instructions;
    • make a list of current animal or bird health or management concerns;
    • prepare farm records (if applicable) for the veterinarian to review;
    • have current medicines and treatment products available; an
    • ensure clear access and good lighting in animal or bird housing areas.

     

    For more information on herd or flock health visits, read these fact sheets:

     

  3. Biosecurity

    What is biosecurity?

    Biosecurity is about:

    • protecting your investment; and
    • thinking about the health of your livestock.

     

    Biosecurity plans help you to identify areas of risk.

    What is a biosecurity plan?

    A biosecurity plan helps you deal with the introduction and spread of disease onto and from your farm. It includes steps for:

    • prevention,
    • reduction; and
    • elimination.

     

    A biosecurity plan should address 3 key areas:

    • access to the farm;
    • animal health; and
    • farm operations.

     

    A veterinarian can help you develop a biosecurity plan during a herd or flock health visit.

    Who is involved in biosecurity?

    A biosecurity plan is most effective when all people visiting your farm are aware of the proper steps. This includes:

    • farmers, their family and farm employees;
    • veterinarians;
    • farm visitors; and
    • delivery persons (i.e., feed suppliers).

     

    How to improve biosecurity on your farm

    Many biosecurity practices are simple and likely already in place on your farm. Examples of some biosecurity measures are listed below.

    Access to the farm

    • Keep a visitor log book.
    • Keep a record of new animals, their date of arrival and their source.
    • Limit sharing of equipment between farms.
    • Keep a log of:
      • equipment movement; and
      • farm deliveries.
    • Ensure farm workers and visitors:
      • wear appropriate clothing; and
      • wash their hands.

     

    Animal health

    • Purchase new animals from a healthy herd.
    • Quarantine new and sick animals for at least 2 weeks (preferably 4 weeks).
    • Discuss appropriate vaccine and parasite control for your animals with a veterinarian.
    • Observe your animals at least twice daily to monitor health.
    • Establish a flock or herd health plan with a veterinarian, including disease-response plans.

     

    Farm operations

    • Completely empty and disinfect pens or stalls between batches of animals.
    • Schedule regular cleaning of:
      • buildings;
      • equipment;
      • farm vehicles; and
      • feed and water containers.
    • Quickly remove and dispose of dead animals away from live animals.
    • Handle and manage manure according to territorial and municipal guidelines.
    • Control wildlife and pests on your farm and in animal houses.
    • Maintain your property, buildings and fences in good condition.
    • Purchase feed, bedding, equipment and other supplies from a reputable source.
    • Keep an updated biosecurity and training plan for farm workers.

     

    Biosecurity checklist

    A biosecurity checklist is a good way to assess and improve on-farm biosecurity. You can complete the checklist and make improvements on your own.

    However, it's even more valuable to complete or review the checklist with a veterinarian during a herd or flock health visit.

    Get a biosecurity checklist

    • You can download the biosecurity checklist; or
    • pick 1 up in person from the Department of Environment office at 10 Burns Road, Whitehorse. We are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

     

    For more information on farm biosecurity, read the biosecurity fact sheet.

  4. Livestock diseases

    Diseases change over time and new diseases can emerge. It’s important for veterinarians and livestock owners in Yukon to stay up to date on livestock health news.

    Anthrax

    • Anthrax has never been identified in Yukon.
    • Risk of anthrax outbreak in Yukon in very low.
    • The death of 2 or more ruminants or horses within 48 hours is sufficient reason to test for anthrax as the possible cause.
    • Do not touch or move animals you suspect may have died from anthrax.

     

    What do I do if I suspect anthrax?

    Phone: 867-667-5600 or toll free in Yukon: 1-800-661-0408, ext. 5600. An animal health inspector or veterinarian will come to examine and test the carcass at no cost to you.

    Read the fact sheet Protecting Yukon from anthrax.

    Equine infectious anemia

    • Equine infectious anemia (EIA) or swamp fever, is an incurable blood disease of horses (and other equids).
    • EIA is known to occur in Yukon and in other provinces where Yukon horses could be exposed to the virus.
    • Symptoms vary and can include:
      • reduced stamina;
      • fatigue;
      • loss of condition and weakness due to anemia;
      • fever (to 41°C);
      • depression;
      • reduced appetite;
      • rapid breathing;
      • sweating;
      • weight loss;
      • watery eyes;
      • swollen limbs;
      • pale gums;
      • weak pulse; and
      • colic or abortion.
    • Some horses show no symptoms.
    • Spread by biting insects and contaminated equipment.

     

    Testing for EIA

    • A Coggins test from a blood sample is the only way to know whether a horse is infected.
    • Veterinarians submit blood samples to laboratories accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
    • As a horse owner, it is up to you to:
      • determine if your horse should be tested;
      • and to pay for the test.

     

    A negative Coggins test is often needed for horses to attend group events, participate in shows or stay in boarding stables.

    For information about EIA testing contact:

    • your veterinarian; or
    • the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 250-719-6855.

     

    Read the Equine infectious anemia fact sheet.

    Pneumonia in wild sheep

    • Bacteria and viruses can live in the respiratory tract of a healthy domestic sheep or goat. Wild sheep have little resistance to these bacteria and viruses.
    • In western Canada and the United States, there have been large die-offs of bighorn sheep due to pneumonia outbreaks. For years following these, lamb survival was reduced.
    • Yukon has the largest population of wild thinhorn sheep in Canada. They prefer alpine meadows at high elevation (spring and summer) and south-facing slopes (winter). But, individual sheep do wander through valleys where farming occurs.
    • Young rams seeking new wild herds may be attracted to domestic sheep.

     

    Keep domestic and wild sheep separated

    • The Government of Yukon issued a control order that requires farmers who keep sheep or goats:
      • to test them; and
      • have approved containment before January 1, 2020.
    • Fencing requirements will be determined on a farm-by-farm basis to prevent contact between wild and domestic animals. Livestock owners should contact the Agriculture Branch to arrange a farm visit to develop a plan that works with their farm management practice.
    • Funds are available to offset the costs of improving or installing fencing that meets the new requirements.
    • Livestock owners can contact the Animal Health Unit to schedule testing.
      • There is no cost to the livestock owner for sampling or testing animals.
      • If an animal tests positive for M. Ovi, and ordered destroyed, livestock owners are eligible for compensation.

     

    Anyone who owns sheep or goats is encouraged to contact either the Agriculture Branch or the Animal Health Unit to get assistance to comply with this Control Order.

    Report respiratory diseases in your sheep

    Tell the Animal Health Unit. Email animalhealth@gov.yk.ca or phone: 867-667-5600 or toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 5600.

    Report escaped livestock

    If any sheep, goats, llamas or alpacas escape your farm, inform the agriculture development officer. Phone: 867-667-5838 or toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 5838.

    Report sightings of wild sheep near livestock

    Call the TIPP line. Phone: 1-800-661-0525.

    For more information read the Sheep control order fact sheet.

    Porcine epidemic diarrhea

    Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) is a viral disease of pigs that causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs of any age. It also causes high death losses in suckling piglets. is the best tool to protect pig herds.

    PED:

    • poses no risk to human health or food safety, and does not affect animals other than pigs;
    • was first found in Canada on a pig farm in Ontario on January 2014; and
    • can be spread by equipment or vehicles contaminated by pig manure or by the movement of infected pigs.

     

    If you suspect PED, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    Read the Porcine epidemic diarrhea fact sheet.

    Diseases in poultry

    Signs of sickness in birds include:

    • decreased egg production;
    • thin-shelled eggs;
    • refusal to leave nest;
    • not eating;
    • swelling around head, neck, eyes;
    • pale or blue-black comb;
    • warts and/or scabs on the comb;
    • coughing, gasping or sneezing;
    • lack of movement;
    • lameness;
    • lack of coordination;
    • weakness;
    • diarrhea;
    • blood or mucous in stool;
    • fluid in the abdomen; and
    • sudden death.

     

    What to do if your birds seem sick

    1. Separate sick birds from healthy ones, and always handle the sick birds last.
    2. After handling sick or dead birds, wash your hands with soap and change your clothes and boots. Do this before leaving the property or working with other birds.

     

    If you think you have sick birds or birds are dying

    1. Take pictures or videos of the sick birds.
    2. Contact a veterinarian or tell the Animal Health Unit. Email animalhealth@gov.yk.ca or phone: 867-667-5600, toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5600 .

     

    If a bird dies

    Consult a veterinarian while the carcass is still available. They can help you determine if testing can be done on the carcass to determine the cause of death.

    Read the Yukon poultry basics fact sheet.

    For more information on raising healthy poultry in Yukon, read the Poultry health handbook.

  5. Livestock health handbooks and workshops

    Livestock health handbooks

    Yukon farmers need health and disease information specific to Yukon conditions. These handbooks for poultry, swine and cattle will help you improve the health of your herds and flocks:

     

    The handbooks include information on:

    • health tips;
    • management tips;
    • biosecurity;
    • food safety;
    • safe slaughter practices;
    • breeding considerations;
    • reproduction and birth;
    • disease descriptions;
    • reportable diseases; and
    • vaccines.

     

    Livestock workshops

    We sponsor workshops for veterinarians and livestock owners on a regular basis. We will announce upcoming workshops on the events page. Email animalhealth@gov.yk.ca to get on our distribution list.


Contact 

If you have questions about the Veterinary Services Program, about your remaining balance, or how to apply, email: animalhealth@gov.yk.ca or phone: 867-667-5600, toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, ext. 5600.