Alberta Lamb!

Local pride from our gate to your plate.

Veterinary Products for Sheep 

A full list of veterinary products approved for use in Canada is published in the Compendium of Veterinary Products - Canada Edition. Sponsored websites offer access to the most recent compendium. To access, go to the company home page (e.g. and click the 'compendium' link. Entering terms such as 'sheep' and 'antibiotic' results in a list of products.

The use of many medications is falling under greater scrutiny and regulatory oversight. The onus is increasingly on producers to carefully plan flock health programs, ensure they have a valid veterinarian-client- patient relationship (VCPR), and to have medications on-hand when needed. Veterinarians also face obligations, such as ensuring they have documented evidence that a VCPR exists before writing prescriptions.

Veterinarian-client-patient Relationship (VCPR)

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association:
A legitimate VCPR is considered to exist only if medical records of the practice contain sufficient evidence of relevant and timely interaction between the veterinarian, animal owner and animal patients.
These interactions may include, but are not limited to:
• Farm or home visits
• Clinic appointments
• Consultations
• Direct animal examinations (individual or herd/flock)
• Laboratory reports
• Production record reviews, etc.
The VCPR is supported by documented evidence that the veterinarian has undertaken the steps necessary to establish medical needs and consequently prescribes and subsequently dispenses pharmaceuticals.
The VCPR is not a signed contractual agreement but rather a working connection and interaction between veterinarian, client and specific animal patient or group of animals. The VCPR is not in and of itself an entitlement to prescribe and subsequently dispense.

Visit ALP's 'Finding a Veterinarian' page.

Extra-label Drug Use

Many drugs are not approved for use in sheep and goats, and require a veterinary prescription to specify how the product can be used safely. Information regarding dispensing and withdrawal times for extra-label drug use is available to veterinarians from the Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank. Licensed veterinarians may make requests for information through the University of Saskatchewan website (

Antimicrobial Resistance and Increased Oversight

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) are exposed to naturally occurring or human-made antimicrobials. Over- use and misuse of antimicrobial medications amplifies the rate of resist- ance. Once resistance to a drug occurs, it loses effectiveness in com- bating disease and infection in animals and humans. In response to the threat of antimicrobial resistance, many countries are adopting policies to increase control of antimicrobial use in both humans and animals. The Federal Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use in Canada details the federal approach to implementing changes in Canada (
As of December 1, 2018 policy changes increase restrictions regarding the sale of all medically important antimicrobials (MIAs) used in food-producing animals. MIAs are designated as important for human medicine. After this date, these drugs require veterinary prescriptions and must be dispensed through a veterinarian, pharmacist or a feed mill as a mixed medicated feed. Veterinarians are required to ensure docu- ment evidence of a valid VCPR exists before providing a prescription. The changes include all forms of drug administration (i.e. in feed, water, injectables, implants, topical, dusting powder, intramammary, intrauterine, oral, otic). The restrictions do not affect the sale of ionophores (e.g. Monensin), as they are not used in human medicine and are not classed as MIAs.
Further information on regulatory changes to veterinary drug use, importation and distribution is available on the Health Canada website (

Dealing with animal diseases is a part of everyday management for livestock producers. Most diseases encountered will affect a relatively limited number of animals and are unlikely to rapidly spread through the industry. Although it is essential to control diseases to maintain your flock profitability, the occurrence of most diseases is not considered an emergency situation. Certain diseases, however, are classified as reportable.

These are diseases that are: highly contagious; pose a threat to human health; endanger trade; or are not currently endemic in Canada (e.g. Foreign Animal Diseases).

It is essential that cases or suspected cases of reportable diseases are reported as soon as possible. Producers must be familiar with the signs of reportable diseases and take action immediately if they are concerned.

Producers and veterinarians are required to report cases or suspected cases of federally reportable diseases to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district veterinarian. The CFIA is designated as the lead organization in coordinating control efforts for these diseases. Go to for more information, a list about federally reportable diseases and for CFIA office contact information.

Information regarding Alberta’s provincially reportable and notifiable diseases is available from the Alberta Agriculture website.

Information about Alberta’s Foreign Animal Disease Support Plan is available from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

The biosecurity practices you use to control other diseases will help protect your flock, and the industry as a whole, from reportable diseases.

  • Working closely with your veterinarian will help tailor veterinary care to your flock’s unique requirements and, in the event of a disease outbreak, save time in diagnosis and treatment.
  • Follow the recommendations in the National Sheep Producer Biosecurity Planning Guide to mitigate and respond to threats to flock health. 

All producers need to deal with on-farm mortalities and handling of manure.  As well as being regulated by Provincial laws, the use of effective handling and disposal methods helps minimize the spread of disease on your farm and can limit the number of predators drawn to your property through scavenging.


Setting It Up: Sheep Infrastructure (ALP Management Module):  This module provides information for setting up facilities to effectively manage manure and deadstock.

Composting Sheep and Lambs (ALP factsheet)

Livestock Mortality Management (Disposal) (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry handbook) 

Nutrient Management Planning Guide (including link to Manure Management Planner - Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website) 

Alberta Regulation, Animal Health Act, Disposal of Dead Animals Regulation (pdf file)

Note:  Growing Forward 2 programs, such as the On-Farm Stewardship program, may provide funding for certain aspects of nutrient management.  Visit the GF2 website to learn more.


Internal and external parasites can drain the productivity and profitability of your sheep, and increase their susceptability to other diseases.  In recent years, resistance to many veterinary products used for controlling parasites has complicated parasite management.  In addition to using the materials listed below, also see the parasite section of the Health Module.  Consulting with your veterinarian and monitoring the level of infection of your flock, allow you to target your control efforts to increase effectiveness.

  • The Problem with Spots (article by Dr. Kathy Parker on controlling T. ovis published in the April 2012 ALP N'ewesletter)


Videos on ALP's YouTube channel, Sheep Central Alberta:

Thin Ewe Syndrome: Tackling production limiting dieases (includes information on parasite control)


The number of lambs you market has a direct impact on the profitability of your flock. Most lamb mortalities occur during or shortly after birth.  Investing the time and effort into ensuring your lambs are given the best start possible will pay off with more live lambs.  Taking care of lambs begins with ensuring your ewes are well taken care during pregnancy, particularly during the last four to six weeks of gestation.  See the ALP Reproduction and Nutrition modules for more details about ewe management. 

Sample Lambing Record Templates
Template one
Template two

Preparing for Lambing and Difficult Births (also see ALP video below):

Caring for Hypothermic Lambs:

Castration and Tail Docking:

Neonatal Lamb Post-Mortem Resources (Also see 'Neonatal Management' webinar with Lynn Tait, below)

Mastitis:   Mastitis in Ewes (ALP fact sheet)

Early Weaning:  Early Weaning Protocol (ALP fact sheet)

Videos on ALP's YouTube channel, Sheep Central Alberta

Part of the Shepherding 101 series

'Neonatal Management' webinar with Dr.Lynn Tait

"Biosecurity" refers to those precautions taken to reduce the risk of introducing livestock diseases to a farm or region where they do not already exist.

Alberta's agri-food industry is constantly improving biosecurity practices to prevent incidental spread of disease among livestock.

For an overview of biosecurity principles see the ALP Biosecurity factsheet

Alberta Lamb Producers is representing the Alberta sheep industry at consultation meetings with the Alberta government and other commodity groups. For more information please visit the Biosecurity in Alberta website.

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association has a variety of biosecurity publications available on their website, including the Lamb Biosecurity Booklet, developed in cooperation with Alberta Lamb Producers. 

The Voluntary National Sheep On-Farm Biosecurity Standard and Planning Guide are available. The Standard and Planning Guide were developed by producers, veterinarians and other industry experts, using CFIA guidelines. The Planning Guide provides a step-by-step approach to implementing a biosecurity plan that will fit the unique requirement of your flock.  

Two videos on ALP's YouTube channel, Sheep Central Alberta, provide an overview of biosecurity (Part 1) and a guide on how to use the National Biosecurity Standard and Planning Guide (Part B). 


Check the Canadian Agricultural Partnership website for the availability of funding to help make improvements to on-farm biosecurity. 

ALP maintains a list of veterinarians who have expressed a particular interest in working with small ruminant species and in receiving regular communications from Alberta Lamb Producers.  

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) maintains a searchable database of licensed veterinarians in Alberta.

Visit the ABVMA website.


Importance of health management:

Animals that are unhealthy raise fewer lambs and simply cost more to have on the farm. By being proactive about animal health, producers will put more money into their bank accounts instead of into problem animals. Alberta Lamb Producers provides the following resources to assist producers in making basic health and management decisions for their flock. We also recommend that producers maintain a Veterinary-Client Relationship, to faciliate diagnosis of specific concerns and to establish an effective flock health program.  

Sheep Health Manuals:

These manuals provide information on setting up flock health programs and details on specific sheep diseases.  To find information on limiting introduction and spread of diseases on your farm, visit the Biosecurity page. Remember you can always use the 'Search' option at the top right hand corner of the home page to find information on specific topics or diseases.

  •  Feedlot Lamb Pathology Atlas: This atlas contains reference photographs of both gross pathology and histopathology (microscopic) lesions to help both veterinarians and producers identify disease conditions in lamb production.
  • Sheep and Goat Management in Alberta: Health  (ALP Management Module): This module gives a thorough overview of the importance of controlling disease, how diseases are spread, preventative measures and information about specific disaeases. 

Also visit the 'Factsheet' page of this website to download information on specific conditions.

Body Condition Scoring:

Routinely checking the body condition score of your sheep will help monitor their health and welfare status. Maintaining sheep at an appropriate condition will also optimize flock productivity and feed effeciency.

What's the Score: Sheep (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry)

         Body Condition Scoring (2 page barn sheet based on 'What's the Score: Sheep')

Ewe Body Condition Scoring Handbook (Beef and Lamb New Zealand: stresses importance of condition scoring and provides target scores) 

Videos on ALP YouTube channel, Sheep Central Alberta:

Information on specific diseases: