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
  • Emergencies

  1. Access the Veterinary Services Program for farmers

    The Veterinary Services Program helps farmers get veterinary care for livestock raised for food or fibre. We updated the program in 2022 to make it easier for farmers to get veterinary advice.

    Services in this program include:

    • free telemedicine consultations;
    • livestock prescription medications;
    • some on-farm services; and
    • funds for private veterinarian consultations, up to $1,000 per year.

    It's free to enrol and you'll be automatically renewed each year.

    See quick facts about the program.

    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 are not raised for food in the Yukon.

    Apply for the Veterinary Services Program

    1. Complete the Premises Identification account application.
    2. Submit the completed form to
    3. You'll receive a Premises Identification (PID) number within 2 working days.
    4. Complete the Veterinary Services Program enrolment form. Include your PID number.
    5. Submit the enrolment form:
      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
      Government of Yukon
      Animal Health Unit (V-7)
      Box 2703
      Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6

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

    How do I book a telemedicine consultation?

    To book a telemedicine consultation, phone: 867-667-5600, toll free in the Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 5600, or email

  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 people (such as 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 the Yukon to stay up to date on livestock health news.

    Avian influenza virus

    The Government of Yukon has confirmed that the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has been found in wild migratory birds in the Yukon.

    Learn how to protect livestock from avian flu.


    • Anthrax has never been identified in the Yukon.
    • Risk of anthrax outbreak in the 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 the Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 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.

    Chronic Wasting Disease

    Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal disease of cervids such as:

    • elk;
    • moose;
    • mule deer;
    • reindeer/caribou; and
    • white-tailed deer.

    The disease is caused by abnormal proteins called prions and is closely related to:

    • scrapie in sheep and goats;
    • bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle; and
    • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans.

    Unlike BSE, chronic wasting disease has not been linked to disease in humans who consume the meat of infected animals. It has not been found in wild or captive cervids in the Yukon to date, but monitoring programs are in place to detect it.

    We operate a mandatory surveillance program for CWD. We require all farmed cervids that die or are slaughtered to be tested for CWD. Monitoring has taken place since 2001 with no positive tests found on any Yukon game farms.

    Farmers can participate in the Government of Canada’s voluntary herd certification program, administered by the Agriculture Branch. Farmers who meet the requirements are assigned a herd status that reflects a lower risk that CWD is present in their animals. Participation in this program is required to be eligible for federal compensation if CWD is ever detected in their herd. The following herds are participating in the program as of December 31, 2022:

    • Eldorado Game Ranch; elk herd level A.

    Learn more about preventing chronic wasting disease in our information sheet.

    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 the 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.
    • The 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 may be 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 or phone: 867-667-5600 or toll free in the 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 the Yukon 1-800-661-0408, and ask to be transferred.

    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.

    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 or phone 867-667-5600, toll free in the Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 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 and this info sheet on avian influenza for poultry producers in the Yukon.

    For more information on raising healthy poultry in the 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 farming guide books

    These guidebooks provide information on livestock farming specific to the Yukon’s cold climate and conditions.

    The guide books include information on:

    • housing and environment;
    • feed and nutrition;
    • Body Condition Score;
    • health strategies on breeding, castration, disease prevention, caring for sick or injured animals or euthanasia;
    • welfare strategies on handling, transportation and slaughter; and
    • managing farm operations.

    Livestock workshops

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

    Managing farm stress and coping with loss

    Read this resources fact sheet.

  6. Emergencies

    Emergencies of all kinds can affect your farm year-round and without warning. An emergency plan can be helpful for coping with unexpected events such as:

    • wildfires;
    • flooding;
    • extreme weather;
    • limited feed supply;
    • utility failure;
    • transportation accidents; and
    • serious illness or death of the main caretaker.

    You can use the on-farm emergency preparedness guide to plan how you can keep your property and livestock safe during emergencies.


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