Ontario's Livestock Medicines Act

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Outlets
  3. Licenses
  4. Storage
  5. Expired Products
  6. Inducement
  7. Sales Procedure
  8. The Livestock Medicine Advisory Committee
  9. Summary


In Ontario, livestock owners may purchase a class of drugs, known as livestock medicines, from retail outlets for use in their own animals. These medicines do not require a veterinary prescription. Their sale is regulated under the Livestock Medicines Act which requires outlets obtain a license and are subject to Ministry inspection. The Act specifies that outlets may only sell specific types of livestock medicines, and that they are sold in a responsible manner by knowledgeable individuals.


There are presently 552 licensed livestock medicine outlets in Ontario. Unannounced inspections are conducted by appointed Ministry inspectors to monitor compliance with the Livestock Medicines Act and its regulation. Compliance is achieved through education and a review of deficiencies with the outlet operator to rectify problems. The inspection process monitors medicine handling, sales activities and ensures only drugs designated as livestock medicines are offered for sale. A written report is completed on site and this information is used to forecast inspection frequency.

All new licensees receive a copy of the 'Livestock Medicines Act Compliance Manual' which assists outlets in achieving compliance. During an on-site visit by an inspector, the Act and the compliance manual are discussed including promotion and awareness of the operator's role in animal health, food safety and quality assurance initiatives.

Contravention of the Livestock Medicines Act or its regulations may result in regulatory measures including but not limited to product detention, product seizure or a hearing before the Director to consider the license status under the Livestock Medicines Act.


The Livestock Medicines Act requires all Class 1 licensees to have an "established place of business" for the storage and sale of livestock medicines. Licensees with a Class 1 Licence can apply for a Class 2 license which allows them to sell livestock medicines at a temporary, fixed location, other than their licensed establishment; for example a horse race or agricultural fair. A temporary Class 2 license is required thirty days prior to an event and will expire immediately after the event date.

Licensees cannot deliver a livestock medicine to a livestock owner without an order from that owner authorizing such delivery, evidenced by an invoice prepared by the licensee in advance of delivery. Door-to-door sales or peddling are strictly prohibited.


Manufacturers of livestock medicines clearly state specific storage instructions on the labels of their products. Failure to store these products according to the instructions may result in the product not performing as intended, or causing additional side effects.

Some storage considerations include temperature, light, humidity and potential for breakage. Vaccines and some other medicines are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. The regulation requires livestock medicines that require refrigeration be kept in a properly functioning refrigerator used solely for livestock medicines. It is advisable to have a thermometer in this unit to ensure it is functioning properly. Foods intended for human consumption must not be stored in the refrigerator containing livestock medicines. This reduces the risk of accidental contamination of human food with livestock medicines, as well as the potential cross-contamination of livestock medicines with microbial contaminants from human foods.

Storage shelves and cabinets must be constructed or located so that livestock medicines do not come in contact with other health products or human food. The refrigerator and other storage facilities should be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.

Expired Products

Expired livestock medicines must not be offered for sale under any circumstances. Immediately after the expiration date indicated on the label is exceeded, the licensee must remove the livestock medicine from the display area. The expired product must be kept separate from other livestock medicines and disposed of in an appropriate manner. The chemical composition of livestock medicines may change over time reducing their effectiveness and/or posing side effects. Manufacturers carefully calculate the shelf life of their products including reasonable 'use time' for producers to avoid such outcomes and protect livestock.

Sale of the product after the label expiry date provides no guarantee with respect to the safety or efficacy of the product. Pharmaceutical companies will not support their products' claims once the expiry date has lapsed. Operators are encouraged to routinely check expiry dates of products and rotate inventory on a regular basis in order to prevent the inadvertent sale of expired goods.


Livestock medicines are not to be used to induce the purchase of additional livestock medicines or other goods. As well, other goods cannot be used to encourage the purchase of livestock medicines. For instance, livestock medicines can not be given away in conjunction with the purchase of feed or a halter and likewise, a bag of feed or a brush can not be given away with the purchase of livestock medicines. The licensee at the retail level may reduce the price of livestock medicines on a per item basis. For example, reducing the price 20% is permissible, but offering "Buy four, get one free" is not. Livestock owners should not be encouraged to purchase more livestock medicines than they need. Inducements could encourage over-buying which creates the potential for products to expire before they might be used.

Sales Procedure

Licensed livestock medicines outlet operators are required to record the name and address of the purchaser, as well as the lot number of biologicals sold. The brand name and quantity of any other livestock medicines sold are recorded on sales invoices. This provides a 'trace-back' system in the event of a product recall or adverse reaction.

Retail operators are not permitted to repackage livestock medicines. Each product must be sold in its original packaging as it was received from the manufacturer. The label on the manufacturer's package provides directions for use, storage, cautions, withdrawal period and expiry date. The licensee should make the purchaser aware of any warnings or cautions on the label. No advertising by the licensee can exceed the claims or information printed on the manufacturer's label.

The Livestock Medicine Advisory Committee

This committee is composed of representatives from all aspects of the livestock industry. The Ontario Minister of Agriculture Food appoints the members. They review the legislation and address concerns pertaining to sale of livestock medicines. The Minister is advised on matters concerning the Livestock Medicines Act and its Regulations.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers or distributors may make application to the committee for consideration of new products to be included on the list of medicines approved for retail sale. Upon approval, the committee recommends to the Minister that the product be authorized for sale by licensed livestock medicine outlets.


The Livestock Medicines Act provides an avenue for livestock owners to have access to a class of drugs (livestock medicines) at licensed outlets in order that they can treat their animals.

Indiscriminate use of drugs cannot replace good livestock management practices. Proper use of livestock medicines is an important tool to minimize stress and enhance animal welfare in animal agriculture. Producers are encouraged to consult with their veterinarian if in doubt about either diagnosis or treatment.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca