Part of Animal health

Small-scale swine disease investigations

This investigation project will help small-scale swine producers and their veterinarians.


A small-scale swine producer is defined as someone who farms 10 sows or fewer or who markets 100 or fewer finisher pigs every year. See Alberta Pork’s webpage for small-scale swine producer information and resources

This project applies to both small-scale domestic and wild boar producers.

About the project

The Disease Investigation Project’s main goal is early detection of provincially and federally reportable porcine diseases like:

This project can help producers directly or private veterinarians who refer cases from small-scale swine producers. Not all pigs from small-scale swine herds will be accepted for testing. The herd’s symptoms must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • sudden increase in death
  • sudden increase in abortions (pregnancy loss)
  • illness manifested by septicemia (red to purple discolouration of the ears, abdomen and sometimes legs) leading to death
  • increased number of pigs having diarrhea leading to death
  • increased rate of difficulty in breathing and coughing leading to death


  • Producers

    After consultation with our staff, you will be advised if your case fits the submission criteria.

    If your case does NOT fit the submission criteria:

    You are encouraged to contact a local veterinarian for consultation. To search for a veterinarian that works on pigs, you can use the ABVMA’s Find-A-Veterinary-Practice page. 

    If your case DOES fit the submission criteria:

    You may submit your pigs yourself, but you are encouraged to submit your pigs through your veterinary clinic. Government veterinarians will not provide specific treatment advice and/or prescriptions directly to you, so it is always more advantageous to submit pigs through your veterinary clinic. If you list a veterinarian on the submission form it is assumed that you have a valid VCPR (Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship, as defined by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association) with that veterinarian.

  • Veterinarians

    After consultation with our staff, you will be advised if your case fits our submission criteria.

    If your case does NOT fit the submission criteria:

    You are encouraged to perform diagnostics in your clinic or use the Diagnostic Services Unit (DSU) at the UCVM. The project does not cover the cost of this service, and samples must be referred by a veterinarian, although carcasses can be delivered directly by the producer. 

    For information on services, prices, submission forms and shipping products, call the DSU directly at 403-220-2806 or email [email protected].

    Alternatively, you may also use a government post-mortem room after a rental agreement has been signed. You can ask us about this service.

    If your case DOES fit the submission criteria:

    You may submit pigs or post-mortem samples on behalf of your producer.

    As the submitting veterinarian, you are responsible for relaying post-mortem and laboratory results to the producer.

  • Criteria for all submissions

    We only examine dead pigs. Acceptable euthanasia methods can be found in the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.

    Whole pig carcasses, or post-mortem samples from pig carcasses, and/or blood samples (coagulated or uncoagulated for ASF surveillance) may be submitted to one of the Alberta government laboratories in: 

    • Edmonton, Airdrie, or Lethbridge
    • Fairview will only accept blood samples, post-mortem samples and small pig carcasses 4 kg or less; large pig carcasses will not be accepted. 

    Whole carcasses will have a post-mortem examination performed and will be tested for ASF, Influenza virus, Coronaviruses or Salmonella as determined by the attending veterinarian or veterinary pathologist. 

    Once the post-mortem examination has been performed, the Alberta government veterinary pathologist or an assigned veterinarian will contact the submitter (producer or veterinarian) by phone or email to provide the findings. 

    A preliminary report will be provided following the post-mortem examination. This is usually completed within 5 working days of the sample arriving at the pathology lab. 

    Further reports and communication will follow as test results become available. This generally takes between 2 and 10 working days from the time the post-mortem examination is completed (but it could take longer due to unforeseen circumstances). If you have not received any communication from us within a week of sending your samples, phone us to ask about your submission’s status.

    Should the pigs be positive for a reportable or notifiable disease (provincial or federal), our veterinarians will provide information on the disease response required and will work together with the producer or their veterinarian to ensure the appropriate measures are taken.

    There is no fee for submitting carcasses for testing; however, producers are responsible for the cost of getting the carcasses or samples to a government laboratory.

    Note: if testing beyond what is offered by the Small-Scale Swine Disease Investigation Project is wanted, then arrangements will need to be made to have samples submitted to a private diagnostic lab at the producer’s expense.

Submissions process

Important: Contact us first to confirm submission approval before you ship or drop off the carcass. Call:

Contacting us before dropping off or shipping carcasses ensures the circumstances meet the submission criteria and that you have a submission form. In some cases, the location closest to you may not be the location you will be asked to ship the carcasses to. Producers and veterinarians are welcome to drop off the carcasses or samples in person, but this must be pre-arranged with the appropriate staff at the drop-off location.

Submission form

Complete all the information on the Disease Investigation Program Mammal submission form – the premises identification number (PID) is mandatory. Apply for a PID online. A sample may still be submitted if the producer has already applied for and is awaiting their number. Results will generally not be released until the PID number has been received by our offices. 

Keep a copy of your submission form for your records (if possible) and send the original along with the carcasses.

Sample preparation

Prepare your sample for delivery or shipping

We prefer to receive whole, unopened carcasses. However, due to the size of some pigs and the logistics of shipping, it may be reasonable to only submit blood or post-mortem samples.

Contact us for guidance if you wish to perform a post-mortem examination at your own facility and send us individual samples rather than a whole carcass.

  • Up to 3 fresh or frozen carcasses (representative samples from the herd) may be delivered or shipped via courier. 
  • Do not ship carcasses on Fridays, as they cannot be received on weekends.
  • Place the carcasses in a double-bagged Ziploc or garbage bag.
  • Provide sufficient ice packs to keep carcasses cool in case shipment takes 2 to 3 days to arrive. Larger carcasses require additional icepacks.
  • Put submission form in separate Ziploc bag from the bagged carcasses.
  • Although not required by transportation regulations, it is strongly recommended that you place the double-bagged carcasses or samples in a leak-proof container (for example, a large plastic tote or cooler, or styrofoam insert within cardboard box).
  • Ship carcasses using the courier of your choice Monday through Thursday depending on your location in the province; it can take more than 1 day for shipments to arrive. Alternatively, have the carcasses delivered by the producer or the veterinarian.

Note: All carcasses received in our facilities are incinerated once the post-mortem examination or sampling is complete. We do not return remains to owners.

Laboratory locations

Contact the appropriate government laboratory in advance for their courier schedule and staff availability. If the carcasses are being delivered, make note of the address and call us to arrange the drop-off. We need to know the estimated time of arrival and will provide drop-off directions.

Ship or deliver carcasses or samples to Edmonton, where the provincial veterinary pathologist is located, for the quickest response time. It may not be the location nearest to you but will ensure the quickest post-mortem examination and testing.


Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation
Attn: Pathology Lab (Post-mortem Receiving)
6909 – 116 Street 
Edmonton, AB  T6H 4P2 

Phone: 780-422-1923

If shipping or delivering carcasses or samples to Edmonton is not feasible then these Airdrie and Lethbridge locations are able to receive whole carcasses and samples:


Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation
Attn: Pathology Lab (Post-mortem Receiving)
97 East Lake Ramp NE
Airdrie, AB  T4A 0C3 

Phone: 403-948-8575


Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation
Attn: Pathology Lab (Post-mortem Receiving)
3115 – 5 Avenue North
Lethbridge, AB  T1H 0P2

Phone: 403-381-5190

If shipping or delivering carcasses or samples to Edmonton, Airdrie or Lethbridge is not feasible then the Fairview location may be utilized. Note: Fairview will only accept blood samples, post-mortem samples and small pig carcasses 4kg or less – large pig carcasses will not be accepted. 


Alberta Agriculture, and Irrigation
Attn: Pathology Lab (Post-mortem Receiving)
Bay #3, 10941-90 Avenue
Fairview, AB  T0H 1L0

Phone: 780-835-2238


Alberta Pork – Small-Scale Production

National Farm Animal Care Council – Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs

Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System – Smallholder Swine

Canadian Small Scale Pig Farming