VSFCP National Standards (Revised June 2017)

National Standards Index

3. General Rules

These requirements must be met by participants in all three certification pathways.


The certification program must be open to any owner of a premises on which sheep or goats are kept, provided that the owner and the premises meet the program requirements and the owner of the premises has not had the right to participate in the VSFCP removed (revoked).


All sheep and goats on a premises must be included in the flock/herd enrolled in the certification program, ownership notwithstanding.


Multiple premises must be listed under the same certification contract if the premises belong to the same owner and are located contiguous to each other.

Multiple premises that are non-contiguous to each other still need to be included under the same certification contract if the small ruminants on the premises meet the definition of established herd.

Multiple non-contiguous premises may be permitted to be enrolled under different certification contracts (i.e. different flocks/herds with separate statuses) if they are not considered an established herd (see definition), including no exchange of animals, and no direct or indirect (shared use of pasture, facilities, equipment) contact of animals.


The flock/herd owner must arrange for the services of an accredited veterinarian (or equivalent) to deliver the VSFCP. The accredited veterinarian’s acceptance of their role in implementation of the VSFCP within the identified flock/herd is reflected by their signature on the application form.


The owner of a flock/herd must report to their accredited veterinarian any illness in a sheep or goat over 12 months of age lasting longer than two weeks, except a physical injury. The accredited veterinarian will be responsible for monitoring the outcome of the case and for reporting the case to the CFIA if scrapie is a differential diagnosis. If CFIA determines the animal may be a scrapie suspect, then CFIA’s scrapie eradication program procedures must be followed. If the flock/herd is found to be infected with scrapie or a source of scrapie, its certification status will be immediately suspended. The flock/herd will be subject to the CFIA’s scrapie eradication program governed by the Health of Animals Act and the Health of Animals Regulations.


All animals aged 12 months or more must be identified with two unique identification devices.


Animals less than 12 months of age must be identified in a manner that enables the owner to track these animals in the flock/herd inventory. All animals aged less than 12 months must be appropriately identified (as required by regulation) when a change in ownership occurs or when the animals are moved outside their usual location (e.g. exhibition, insemination centre, sales barn or auction barn).


Scrapie Information & Facts


Prior to shipping any samples, be sure to read all information concerning packing and shipping samples.


52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK, CANADA, S7N 5B4
PHONE: 306-966-7316


Agri-Food Laboratories Branch
TSE Laboratory
6909 – 116th Street
Edmonton, AB Canada, T6H 4P2
Phone: 780-422-4830
Facsimile: 780-415-4527



Laboratory Services, a division of
the University of Guelph
Building 49, OVC, Box 3612,
Guelph, ON, Canada, N1H 6R8
Phone: 519-824-4120 X: 54544
Fax: 519-821-8072


Veterinary Services Branch
Veterinary Diagnostic Services
545 University Crescent
Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 5S6
Telephone: 204-945-8220


The owner must keep detailed flock/herd records of every sheep or goat that is born on or enters the premises, no matter who the owner is or who is responsible for the sheep or goat. The records must be kept for a period of five years after the animal has left the flock/herd or has died. They must be made available to the program delivery person or the CFIA inspector at any reasonable time and must be presented at the time of each annual inventory.

For all animals in the flock/herd, the basic minimum data that must be maintained in records and submitted as part of the annual report includes the following:

  • the animal’s identifiers;
  • the date the animal entered the flock/herd (day if available, month and year);
  • the animal’s sex;
  • the source of the animal (homegrown, purchased, loan);
  • if the animal was not born in the flock/herd, the name and address of the person from whom it was obtained along with:
    1. the flock/herd status certificate issued for the flock/herd of origin of female animals;
    2. The flock/herd status certificate issued for the flock/herd of origin of male animals or documentation for rams of genotype 136AA 171RR or 136AA or 171QR as required in 4.11 pathway 1;
    3. a list of males being maintained separate from the flock/herd, their individual status level and documentation as required in 4.11 pathway 1;
  • the date the animal left the flock/herd;
  • the reason for the animal leaving and appropriate documentation (a shipping invoice if shipped, a receipt if sold, death record); and
  • scrapie testing results for deadstock over 12 months of age; and
  • scrapie testing results for any live animal testing required if using the alternative sampling protocol detailed in pathway 1.

Additional information that is required for pathway 3 is as follows:

  • identifiers of the sire and dam; and
  • genotype testing results as required for pathway 3.


Sheep or goat milk, colostrum or their derived products destined for use in sheep or goats may only be sourced from sheep or goats in the same flock/herd or from a flock/herd on the VSFCP of greater or equal status as the recipient flock. Sheep or goat milk, colostrum or their derived products from a lower status flock/herd or a flock/herd not enrolled in the program will result in downgrading in status of the recipient flock /herd. Sheep and goat milk and colostrum or their derived products from a scrapie – positive animal, a scrapie suspect animal or a genetically susceptible exposed animal (136AA 171QQ, 136AV 171QQ, 136VV 171QQ, 136AV 171QR) may not be used. Bovine milk and colostrum and their derived products may be used. Appropriate biosecurity standards should be applied when sourcing milk and colostrum from any source including bovine.

Flock/Herd Inventories


Inventories (initial and annual) will be conducted by the accredited veterinarian or an appropriate third party supervised by the accredited veterinarian. The inventory will identify all sheep and goats on the premises. During the inventory inspection, all animals over 12 months of age in the flock/herd must be identified individually (by tag) and the veterinarian must check for any clinical symptoms of scrapie. For extremely large flocks/herds using electronic inventories, all animals over 12 months of age must be identified individually and their identifiers must be physically verified over the course of the year. However, only a statistically significant random sampling must have their identifiers physically verified during the annual inventory inspection. Sampling tables are available upon request. If a flock/herd inspection is performed by a CFIA veterinary inspector for the purposes of the scrapie disease control program, this may replace part or all of the annual inspection by the accredited veterinarian.

Annual Reports


The annual report lists the following:

  • all identification of each sheep and goat on the premises at the time of the inventory;
  • all identification devices placed on each sheep or goat, including the current lamb or kid crop and any sheep or goats that have lost identification devices;
  • all sheep or goats that have entered or left the premises since the last inventory;
  • slaughter lambs and kids (under 12 months) movement may be reported in groups;
  • the status of the flock/herd of origin for those sheep or goats entering the premises;
  • the genotypes for each ram entering the premises where genotyping is required;
  • all males maintained separately from the flock/herd and their individual status level;
  • all deaths;
  • the destination of every sheep or goat that moved off the premises as established by a bill of sale or, if the animal has not been sold, a signed document showing the destination of the sheep or goat;*
  • appropriate laboratory results (genotyping or scrapie testing); and
  • a letter signed by the producer documenting that the sourcing of sheep and goat milk, colostrum and their derived products destined for use in sheep or goats since the last application for advancement, has been sourced from within the flock/herd or from flocks/herds of equal or higher status on the VSFCP.

The report must be forwarded to the status assessor within the anniversary quarter in which the certified flock/herd was registered. The status category is effective from the date when the flock/herd is accepted within the program, and the anniversary quarter for subsequent years is the quarter in which the acceptance date falls (Jan. 1-March 31; April 1-June 30; July 1-Sept. 30; Oct. 1-Dec. 31).

*Official documents produced by provincial identification/traceability programs will be accepted as supporting documentation for animals that have moved on and off the premises.

In all cases, the owner is ultimately responsible for clarifying any inventory questions/concerns that may arise during the course of the review of the annual report by the status assessor.

Deadstock Testing


If no suitable deadstock samples have been submitted for testing for a period of time equal to or exceeding 12 months, at least one animal 18 months of age or older, which has resided in the flock/herd for no less than 18 months, is to be humanely destroyed (in any manner: slaughter, euthanasia) and a sample submitted for testing. If humanely destroying an animal for deadstock testing will have a significant impact on the flock or herd due to its small size, a producer enrolled on pathway 1 may be able to advance using the alternative live animal sampling protocol detailed in 4.5.

Alternatively if no suitable samples have been submitted for testing for a period of time equal to or exceeding 12 months, an enrolled producer may be permitted to remain on the program without advancing to the next level for one additional year (allowing time to raise an animal for slaughter and testing). For certified producers, they would incur a one year status penalty dropping them from certified to Level A.


The head of the animal may be submitted directly to an approved provincial laboratory by the producer, or the accredited veterinarian may collect brain samples for submission to either an approved provincial laboratory or to a CFIA district office to be sent to a CFIA laboratory (as part of the national scrapie surveillance program). The brain samples may be collected by an animal health technician or other veterinarian under the supervision of the accredited veterinarian however, the responsibility of the sample collection and submission remains with the accredited veterinarian. In all cases, the head (or the sample) should be chilled or frozen immediately.

The owner must contact the laboratory or the accredited veterinarian must contact the CFIA district office in advance before submitting a head. The head must bear animal identification.


If moribund animals are humanely destroyed on farm by a gun shot to the head, the recipient lab must sample and test both the brain and one lymph node from the head (mandibular, retropharyngeal or third eyelid) for scrapie.


If the dead animal is not found immediately, or the accredited veterinarian and the laboratory are not available within 36 hours of death, the head of the animal must be frozen by the owner and submitted as a frozen specimen. Freezing enables the scrapie diagnostic test to be applied to the tissues which otherwise would no longer be suitable for testing.


Animals older than 12 months which are submitted for routine post-mortem may be considered as dead submissions if tested for scrapie.


Specimens must meet the requirements specified in the diagnostic protocol approved by the CFIA, which guarantees the reliability and accuracy of the results. If an unsuitable specimen is received, the receiving laboratory is to notify the status assessor and accredited veterinarian responsible for the flock/herd. A follow-up of the details of the individual situation will be undertaken with the responsible accredited veterinarian or status assessor. If negligence on the part of the producer is identified as the cause, or this occurrence is repeated, then the program’s requirements are not considered to have been met and the flock/herd will be suspended.


It is not necessary to submit for testing more than five adult animals from a group of animals that die from a common cause, as determined by a veterinarian or veterinary pathologist, within the time frame (not to exceed four weeks) of the same epidemiologically linked episode.

Exemption From Submission of Heads


The status assessor should consider the following as automatic exemptions from the requirement to submit, unless the status assessor suspects that the conditions set out were not met or that the exemption is being abused to the detriment of the flock certification program.

  1. Destruction of sheep by fire
    1. A certificate or letter from an appropriate fire official must accompany the annual report.
  2. The destruction and carrying away of the head of a sheep by a predator
    1. A certificate or letter from an appropriate wildlife officer or other government official responsible for investigating such incidents must accompany the annual report.
  3. Theft
    1. A report of the police officer who investigates the theft must accompany the annual report.
  4. Loss or destruction of the sample when it is no longer in the control of the owner (e.g. by an accredited veterinarian or laboratory). Recognized laboratories should note on reception of the specimen that the obex is not present and the reason why.
    1. A letter setting out the details of the loss of the sample by the individual responsible must accompany the annual report.
  5. Any other reason over which the owner could not reasonably be expected to have control which results in the destruction or disappearance of the body, such as a flood
    1. A letter or report by an acceptable third party which sets out the details of the reason for failure to submit the sample must accompany the annual report.

Genotype Samples and Testing


Samples (e.g. blood samples) required for genotyping may be taken by a veterinarian accredited to deliver the VSFCP or a third party under the supervision of a veterinarian accredited to deliver the VSFCP (e.g. a veterinary student, a technician). Approved identifiers are required on sheep being genotyped and the official identification number (15 digits) included with the sample submission.


The genotype of 136AA 171RR breeding rams must be determined twice: by using a combination of predictive parentage and testing by a laboratory approved by the CFIA, or a combination of testing at any laboratory and at a laboratory approved by the CFIA. Genotype results with only codon 171 for those animals determined to be 171RR are considered acceptable. This is due to the knowledge that R cannot be found at site 171 in combination with V at site 136 (V at site 136 is linked with Q at site 171).

Accordance between the results of the two separate determinations of genotype is required. In cases of discordance, a separate sample will be taken from the animal and submitted to the CFIA lab for determination of the genotype.

Breeding ewes that require genotyping may have their genotype determined through the use of predictive parentage or laboratory analysis.

Samples for genotyping of female sheep may be submitted to any CFIA-approved laboratory.

Genotyping two different tissues (blood, hair follicle or buccal swab) should be considered especially for confirming genotype in 136AA 171QR animals due to the phenomenon of blood chimerism. There are limitations of the standard blood sample in this rare situation of a chimeric animal.

Information Sharing


Information sharing requires all flock/herd information, including inventories, test results, documents related to purchases and sales of animals or embryos, deaths, to be available to the owner, the CFIA, the status assessor, the regional administrator and the accredited veterinarian. The owner must also agree to allow publication of the status of the flock/herd under the program.

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