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Saskatchewan Small Holder Swine Health Surveillance Program

The Small Holder Swine Health Surveillance Program project is funded in part by the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The program provides free post-mortem examination of non-commercial swine to veterinarians, producers and owners in Saskatchewan through Prairie Diagnostic Services (PDS) in Saskatoon. The program covers the cost of necropsy, histopathology and other testing deemed appropriate by the PDS pathologist on a case-by-case basis.

Submitting deceased swine for examination is a useful tool to diagnose diseases of concern, rule out other diagnoses and guide treatment or preventative measures for the remaining swine in the herd. Postmortem examinations are an important step in identifying reportable/notifiable diseases. For example, the threat of porcine epidemic virus (PED) is significant in Saskatchewan. This disease causes sudden onset, severe diarrhea and high mortality in nursing piglets and is a serious threat to swine producers and industry. Additionally, disease surveillance in all sectors of the swine industry, including small holders, is an essential part of a robust foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness strategy.

Small holders are at increased risk of disease outbreaks because swine with access to the outdoors can have direct contact with wild animals or contaminated environments. By submitting deceased swine through this program, you can help contribute to finding diseases of concern in our livestock populations as quickly as possible so that action to mitigate disease spread can be taken right away.


Small holders and backyard swine producers (non-commercial domestic swine) can submit deceased swine directly to PDS, or veterinarians can submit on behalf of small holder clients, anywhere in Saskatchewan. Commercial swine facilities, defined as those who are registered with the national CQA/ACA or CPE (PigSAFE|PigCARE) programs, do not qualify under this program.

What to Submit

Whole carcasses, up to a maximum of two animals, may be submitted per case. Animals should be submitted as soon after death as possible, as tissues deteriorate very quickly especially in warm weather.

Submitting tissue samples is an option if it is not possible to get whole carcasses to the laboratory in a timely fashion. Contact your veterinarian for more information so that the correct tissues are collected, stored and shipped in an appropriate manner.

Small piglets can be stored no more than three days in a refrigerator before submission for testing. If submission is delayed for more than three days, these animals should be stored frozen (although fresh sampling is preferred).

Animals or tissues that are severely decomposed will not be accepted or useful for testing.

Submitting an Animal

Deceased swine can be delivered directly to PDS. Direct delivery to PDS is the preferred method for submission of whole carcasses. Tissue samples collected by veterinarians can be submitted as per their normal practice.

Prairie Diagnostic Services
University of Saskatchewan
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Sask. S7N 5B4
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phone: 306-966-7316

Phone ahead and let staff know your arrival time as well as what you are bringing for testing. Do not drop carcasses or samples off on Thursdays or Fridays unless you have made prior arrangements so that PDS can accommodate the request based on storage and staffing availability. Deterioration of tissue over the weekend can affect test results. After-hours* services can be arranged at 306-291-9281 for an additional fee at the responsibility of the producer.

Emergency service for admission of samples to the Necropsy Facility is available from 9 A.M. to 5P.M. Saturdays and 9A.M. to 1P.M. Sundays and Holidays.

The PDS submission form is available online. Please include the form with your submission and confirm all information is correct. If available, please include your Provincial Premises Identification (PID) number on the submission form.

Samples or small piglets can be shipped to PDS if direct delivery is not possible. All shipping costs are the responsibility of the submitter. Double or triple-bag the samples/piglets and tie it tightly. Use an absorbent material (e.g., newspaper) between bags to absorb any fluids that may leak out. If the sample is sent by courier, you must double – or triple-bag the specimen and put it into a solid-sided, sturdy, leak-proof container, such as a Styrofoam cooler. Ice packs should be included to keep the tissues cool/fresh. Seal the container so there is no risk that it will leak or break open during transit. These containers will not be returned. Make sure the container is properly labelled and the submission form is included. Enclose the submission form in a water-tight plastic bag and place it on top of the bagged samples in the container or place it in an envelope and tape it to the outside of the container. Ensure the shipment does not arrive at PDS on Thursdays, Fridays, weekends, or statutory holidays to avoid sample deterioration.

Accessing Results

Results will be shared with submitters by PDS. If a veterinarian submits on behalf of a producer, results will be reported back to the veterinarian; it is the veterinarian’s responsibility to share the findings with their client. Any non-negative results for provincially notifiable/reportable diseases will be shared with submitters by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Any suspect federally reportable/notifiable diseases will be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as required by the Health of Animals Act.

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