Small Flock Avian Influenza Program

What is the Program?

Manitoba’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services (VDS) provides free diagnostic testing and post mortem examinations of dead birds submitted by small flock owners through their local veterinary clinics.  The focus is on detecting the arrival of Eurasian strains of avian influenza in Manitoba but owners, through their veterinarians, will get information regarding any disease problems diagnosed in the birds. The program covers the cost of the necropsy, histopathology, PCR testing for Avian Influenza A Virus (AIV) and Infectious Laryngotracheitis Virus (ILTV) and any other diagnostic testing at VDS deemed necessary by the pathologist to complete the case.

Who Should Submit Birds?

Small flock and backyard flock owners in Manitoba can submit birds for examination at VDS through their local veterinarian.

What Birds to Submit?

Birds from small farm flocks (less than 1000 birds) made up of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, game birds, and/or peafowl qualify. Flocks that are raised outside or with other animals are of particular interest. Birds from large scale commercial poultry facilities, research and zoos do not qualify. Parrots, songbirds, and other exotic or indoor companion birds do not qualify.


Owners and their veterinarians will get reports on the diseases observed in the birds submitted – including testing for avian influenza. The results are helpful for all disease problems and not just influenza. These submissions will help determine the level of avian influenza in small flocks in Manitoba. It is useful for people to know if influenza is a common or rare event in Manitoba poultry flocks. Early detection of new highly pathogenic strains avian influenza will help to protect all poultry flocks and their owners.

When Should You Submit Birds?

Any high mortality or large egg production drop in flocks over two weeks of age is a good reason to send in birds. Since mortality can naturally be high in very young flocks, only submit chicks or poults less than two weeks of age if five or more birds have been lost out of a hundred birds hatched or purchased.

Clinical Signs:

Sometimes large numbers of birds die from avian influenza with no clinical signs or the first sign of infection may be a large drop in egg production. Even if an owner does not see large numbers of sick or depressed birds, above normal mortality or loss in egg production are good reasons to submit birds.

What to Submit:

  1. It is best to send in five or less recently dead birds. Severely ill birds are also a good choice but must be euthanized before submission.  If chilled in a refrigerator, dead birds can be stored for three days before being submitted. If dead birds must be kept longer than three days, freezing is an option – although fresh is always best. Do not submit rotten birds. 

How to Submit:

It is necessary to involve a local veterinarian in the submission as they can assist in interpreting any results.  Small flock owners should contact a local veterinary clinic as they will help complete the necessary paper work for submission.  After contacting a local clinic to make arrangements for the submission, it is essential to get the birds to the laboratory in Winnipeg as quickly as possible.  If owners cannot bring them in directly, they will need to make arrangements with the clinic they have contacted.  Please note that veterinary clinics will typically charge reasonable fees for submitting the birds and reviewing the results with the owner. The laboratory is located at the main University of Manitoba campus at the south end of Winnipeg:

          Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday
          Phone: 204-945-8220 in Winnipeg

          Veterinary Diagnostic Services Laboratory
          Agricultural Services Complex
          545 University Crescent
          Winnipeg, MB, R3T 5S6

It It is possible to send dead birds on the bus in a leak proof cooler clearly labeled on the outside with the name and address of the laboratory. Dead birds must be double bagged to prevent leakage. Only send fresh dead birds and put a freeze pack in the cooler.

Submission Form:

A submission form must be completed before the birds are brought to the laboratory. Information requested will include the owner name, address, phone number, land location, and veterinary clinic. VDS laboratory can not send results to individual owners, so a vet clinic must be identified on the submission form. A health history of the flocks is needed and will include the number of birds in the flock, number of birds dead or dying, egg production, and appearance of the sick birds. Be sure to indicate that you are submitting under the small flock testing program. The Avian Submission Form (PDF 233 KB) can be completed when you contact your local veterinary clinic or at the time you bring them in.  If you bring the birds in directly, be sure to contact a veterinarian before hand.  It is advised to use a veterinarian you are familiar with.  

In addition, owners should be aware that although the testing is free, there may be an administration fee charged to result interpretation and sending of the report. 

What Happens if Avian Influenza is Found in Your Birds?

The most common strains of avian influenza presently found in wild ducks and geese in Manitoba are not major concerns in poultry and would not trigger special action by the government. If the less common but potentially deadly strains of the virus are found, the flock will be quarantined and possibly eradicated. While 99% of the strains presently found in wild waterfowl in Manitoba are not a concern, it is necessary to stop the spread of the deadly forms. With the deadly forms, agriculture and public health staff with the government will actively work to stop further spread of the virus.

For further instructions on submitting birds, phone 204-945-8220 in Winnipeg.


For more information, or if you suspect any animal health related concerns, please contact the Chief Veterinary Office or call 204-945-7663 in Winnipeg.