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Canada's Small Ruminant Ultrasound Pregnancy Assessment Training and Certification Program
 

We are proud creators of Canada's Small Ruminant Ultrasound Pregnancy Assessment Training and Certification Program, a necessary initiative aimed at addressing the pressing issue of limited access to pregnancy ultrasound services in the sheep industry. At our organization, we firmly believe in the importance of accurate and affordable pregnancy assessments for effective flock/herd management. However, we recognize the existing policy and rules that restrict farmers from using ultrasound tests and limit this valuable tool to only veterinarians. Across the globe, farmers in various countries benefit from the use of ultrasounds for pregnancy assessments, empowering them with valuable insights into the reproductive health of their livestock. However, it is disheartening to note that Canadian farmers are held against such practices due to existing regulations. We stand against this policy and advocate for a change that allows trained and competent individuals to perform trans-abdominal ultrasound assessments.

 

The ability to determine pregnancy status in small ruminants is a fundamental aspect of farm practices, essential for productivity and profitability. We firmly believe that it should not be treated as an illness requiring diagnosis but rather as a vital component of normal farm operations. With increasing importance placed on knowing whether a ewe or doe is pregnant or open, access to accurate and affordable trans-abdominal ultrasound becomes crucial for effective flock/herd management. Trans-abdominal ultrasound scanning is a safe, humane, and non-invasive process that provides reliable pregnancy assessments.

 

Our position is clear: anyone involved in providing a pregnancy assessment service in small ruminants should be fully trained, competent, and certified by a national, industry-led certifying body. We emphasize the importance of confidence in the abilities, accuracy, and affordability of independent technicians, veterinary technicians, and/or veterinarians who perform pregnancy assessments. The Canadian Sheep Federation firmly believes that trans-abdominal ultrasound assessments can be conducted by any trained and competent individual, regardless of their professional designation.

 

To address the current limitations and advocate for policy change, we have developed the Small Ruminant Ultrasound Pregnancy Assessment Training and Certification Program. This comprehensive program is the result of collaboration between the Small Ruminant Ultrasound Working Group, industry representatives, and certified ultrasound technicians. It offers two levels of participation based on industry feedback and requirements. Participants receive training in the theory of pregnancy ultrasound for personal use and have the opportunity to become certified to offer the service commercially through apprenticeship work and proficiency testing.

 

By providing training and certification in accurate and affordable pregnancy assessments, our program equips farmers with the necessary tools to improve on-farm practices. We firmly believe that empowering individuals with the skills to perform trans-abdominal ultrasound assessments will enhance flock/herd management and support the overall success of the sheep industry. By ensuring that individuals are properly trained and equipped with well-maintained ultrasound equipment, we aim to promote accessibility, accuracy, and affordability in the provision of pregnancy assessment services.

Program Pathways

Canada’s ultrasound pregnancy assessment training and certification program offers two program pathways; Trained and Certified.

 

The Trained pathway requires completion of the theory training unit as outlined below with the option of completing the practical training unit. The practical training unit is not required to be deemed Trained. This pathway is intended for those who’s goal is to perform their own on-farm pregnancy ultrasound assessments. Trained individuals who wish to upgrade their program status to Certified will need to demonstrate practical training or experience equivalent to that required of Certified individuals and will be required to successfully complete the examination process outlined below.

 

The Certified pathway requires completion of the theory and practical training units as outlined below, as well as an examination to evaluate skill level. This pathway is intended for those who wish to provide commercial ultrasound pregnancy assessment services. Certified technicians endorsed by the SRUOC are deemed to be proficient in conducting pregnancy ultrasound assessments in keeping with the expectations of Canada’s small ruminant industries. Certified program status does not necessarily confer the right to practice.

Theory Unit

Applicants are required to sucessfully complete a specialized sheep and goat ultrasound training course provided by the SRUOC. XYZ will establish training unit costs on an annual basis. From the training course, applicants are expected to:

  1. Have a basic understanding of the physics of real time ultrasound technology.

  2. Develop an understanding of the types of RTU systems in use for pregnancy determination in sheep and goats and how to calibrate the units to ensure accuracy.

  3. Understand the physical changes that occur during development of the fetus, placenta and uterus during pregnancy in sheep and goats.

  4. Understand the criteria used to identify pregnancy in sheep and goats using RTU.

  5. Understand the benefits of pregnancy determination of sheep and goats.

  6. Understand diseases associated with pregnancy in sheep and goats.

In addition, applicants will be required to:

  1. Have a clear understanding of Canada’s National Sheep On-Farm Biosecurity Standard and National Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Goat Industry including an understanding of infectious diseases of sheep and goats at risk of transmission with the movement of persons and equipment between animals and farms, methods of disease transmission and control.

  2. Have a clear understanding of humane handling of sheep and goats as outlined in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Sheep and Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Goats (under development).

Practical Unit

  1. Once trained, Certified applicants will be required to complete a provisional apprenticeship program with a certified ultrasound technician. Trained applicants have the option of completing an apprenticeship.

  2. The applicant must supply their own ultrasound machine, suitable for scanning small ruminants, for use during the provisional apprenticeship program.

  3. The applicant is responsible for arranging the provisional apprenticeship directly with a certified technician, and any cost associated with completing the apprenticeship will be the responsibility of the applicant.

  4. A Certified applicant must receive a satisfactory competency evaluation from the technician under whom they are apprenticing to be considered for certification. Competency will be assessed based on the applicants ability to:​​

-------a. Demonstrate expertise in applying RTU to determine pregnancy at varying stages in sheep and goats.

-------b. Demonstrate expertise in determining fetal numbers a appropriate stages of pregnancy in sheep and goats.

Certification

Certified applicants will be examined on their training, understanding of RTU and practical experience as overseen by the SRUOC. Examinations will be administered remotely and applicants will be provided an opportunity to develop their answers and submit them in writing for grading. A satisfactory grade of at least 75% must be achieved on the written evaluation to be considered for certification by the SRUOC.

Applicants who have successfully completed the training and practical units, and have achieved at least 75% on the examination will be granted Certified program status by the SRUOC. Program Certification remains valid unless and until five (5) grievances have been received with respect to the technician’s performance, in keeping with the process outlined below.

Grievance Process

The program supports a grievance process whereby clients can submit competency-based concerns to the SRUOC, about the quality of service provided by a Certified technician.

 

The SRUOC will review all grievances filed as they pertain to the a technician’s competency in providing pregnancy ultrasound assessments. A Certified technician receiving 5 grievances will have their program status suspended until such time that the SRUOC can assess the nature of the grievances and where necessary, recommend corrective actions to the Certified technician. Where no corrective actions are deemed necessary by the SRUOC, or where a Certified technician has completed the recommended corrective actions, the Certified technician will have their program status re-instated. Certified technicians who do not complete corrective actions requested by the SRUOC will not have their Certified program status reinstated.

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