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University of Maine Animal Health Lab Policies:

Thank you for learning about the University of Maine Animal Health Lab. Our lab exists primarily to support the food (furred, feathered and finned) and fiber animal industries in Maine and the Northeast. We welcome inquiries from farmers. Occasionally we will perform diagnostic work on companion animals, but only if the case has been sent to us directly by veterinarians. We welcome veterinarians to contact us about necropsy, bacteriology, cytology or other diagnostic work.

All samples submitted to the University of Maine Animal Health Lab become the property of the University of Maine and will be disposed of using appropriate biosecurity. If requested by the submitting veterinarian at the time of submission, companion animal cadavers may be picked up by the veterinarian for cremation by a licensed facility. Additional fees will apply.

Production Animal Policy:

If you are a livestock owner without a food animal veterinarian, we can accept diagnostic cases from you, but will encourage you to find a food animal veterinarian to help you interpret and apply the findings. Communications about the case (estimates, preliminary, and final reports) will be made to you, but when a veterinarian is found for you then communications will go to both of you. Billing will go to you. Please use the Production Animal Form (PDF) for animals raised for production: chickens, sheep, goats, pigs or any type of animal you use for food or fiber production. If you have an animal of any kind that you think of as a pet, such as dogs, cats or small pet mammals/pet birds, see the Companion Animal Policy (below). You will need to print out the form, fill it in, place in a separate ziploc bag, and include it with the samples you are sending.

Companion Animal Policy:

We do not accept companion animal diagnostic cases directly from clients. If you are an animal owner and would like to have a necropsy or other work done on your pet, please contact your veterinarian, and they can then contact us directly about the case. All submissions of companion animals must be made by veterinarians. We have a Companion Animal Accession Form (PDF) for your vet to fill out. The animal should be either sent, or delivered, to us via an agent of the veterinarian. All communications about the case (estimates, preliminary and final reports) will be made to that veterinarian, and all billing will go to that veterinarian.

Confidentiality Policy:

We keep your identity, and the details of your case, confidential UNLESS we encounter a reportable disease. In that case, we notify you, your vet if you have one, and also the legally appropriate authorities (usually the state of Maine, but may also include the Maine Center for Disease Control and the USDA or FDA). We are required by law to report dangerous conditions. We will attempt to assist you with resolution of problems diagnosed, but the responsibility to apply solutions and to provide good animal welfare practices is yours.

Interpreting Results:

We encourage all our clients to develop a good working relationship with a clinical veterinarian in their area. To find a veterinarian in your area, you can consult the Maine Veterinary Medical Association website.

Billing Policy:

We can accept payment at the time of service (please ask for an estimate) or can bill our clients on a monthly basis. The initial bill is usually created at the time the final report is sent (when all diagnostic work is completed). At this time, we can accept checks or cash. Our billing system is now run through the University Bursar’s Office. In that system, accounts that are over 90 days unpaid are sent to a collection agency.

Submitting Samples

We accept animals under 300 pounds for necropsy from Monday to Friday. Please be sure to call us first (581.2788/2789) before sending or bringing animals for necropsy. All animals or samples should be immediately chilled, not frozen, following death. They must arrive here before noon to be necropsied that day.


Packaging Samples for Shipment to the University of Maine Animal Health Lab

Animals to be sent for necropsy must be chilled immediately following death, and shipped in a biosecure manner. Samples that leak during transport will cause serious problems with the shipper. Samples that arrive at the lab warm or leaking will be refused. History and ID sheets must be filled out for each set of samples, and must not get wet during transport. To ensure good quality results, please follow these directions:

Chill animal immediately:

  1. Use the reuseable frozen ice packs (“Blue Ice”) if possible. Immediately following death of the animal, seal the body in a plastic bag (Ziploc bags are best for small animals).
  2. For small cadavers, either place the sealed cadaver in a cooler, or in a refrigerator (do NOT store with food).
  3. For larger cadavers, place frozen ice packs against the abdomen and chest of the animal to chill the core, and transport immediately to the lab (after calling to check on availability of lab personnel for check-in).
  4. If it will be more than 24 hours before the cadaver arrives at the lab, freezing the cadaver is suggested.

Packaging the cadaver for shipment:

  1. Fill out the appropriate accession form (production animal or companion animal) and seal it inside a Ziploc bag.
  2. Shipments should be sent in a box that is acceptable to the shipper. UPS and FED EX have Styrofoam boxes inside cardboard boxes, that come with directions for shipping. Samples MUST NOT LEAK.
  3. The cadaver should be placed in a Ziploc bag, sealed, then into a second Ziploc bag, and resealed.
  4. Reusable ice packs can be frozen, packed inside separate sealed Ziploc bags, and placed inside the shipping container along with absorbent material, such as paper towels.
  5. Once the accession form, samples, ice packs, and absorbent material are loaded in the styrofoam box, seal it with tape.  Then place the address label (with our address, and your return address) and the “diagnostic sample” label on the surrounding cardboard box, and ship.

REMEMBER: Samples must be shipped promptly or delivered directly to the laboratory. Ship via FedEx or Overnight Priority through the US Postal Service. Be sure that no leakage can occur. Warm or leaking samples will not be tested.

Mail to this address:

University of Maine Animal Health Lab
Cooperative Extension
5735 Hitchner Hall, Room 133
Orono, ME  04469-5735

Driving Directions

University of Maine campus map.

From the South Exit 191 (Formerly Exit 50):

  • Coming from the south on I-95, take Kelley Road Exit #191 (formerly exit #50).
  • Turn right at end of exit ramp. Drive 1 mile to the red flashing light.
  • Take left onto Route 2. Drive approximately 2 miles and take a left onto College Avenue.
  • You will see the University of Maine campus on your right; take the first entrance onto Munson Road.
  • Follow the road around to the right and take a right onto Sebago Road.
  • Pass Merrill Hall, Grove Street Ext.; Hitchner Hall is the next brick building on your right.
  • Pass Hitchner Hall and take a right onto Portage Road and into the alcove directly behind the building.
  • Enter in the door on the right of the alcove, go through the stairwell, and down the hall. You will find our Administrative Assistant in room 134 to assist you.

From the South Exit 193 (Formerly Exit 51):

  • Coming from the south on I-95, take Stillwater Avenue Exit #193 (formerly exit #51).
  • Turn right at the end of the exit ramp.
  • Go through 3 sets of lights; stay in right lane. At the 3rd light (MacDonalds will be ahead on the left) take a right onto College Avenue.
  • Continue along College Avenue past the first UMaine entrance (Alfond Arena) and onto the 2nd entrance (Steam Plant). The steam plant will be on your right and the entrance will be on your left continuing onto Schoodic Road.
  • At the end of Schoodic Road, take a right onto Munson Road and take an immediate left onto Sebago Road. Hitchner Hall will be the 2nd brick building on your right.
  • Pass by Hitchner Hall and take a right onto Portage Road and into the alcove directly behind the building.
  • Enter in the door on the right of the alcove, go through the stairwell and down the hall. You will find our Administrative Assistant in room 134 to assist you.

Submitting Milk Samples for Mastitis Screening

Procedures for Collecting Milk Samples (PDF) (National Mastitis Council)

How to Submit Milk Samples to the University of Maine Animal Health Lab

You will need:

  1. An accession form for milk samples: Milk Sample Submission Form (PDF)
  2. Sterile containers (able to contain about 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk) that you can identify using an indelible pen
  3. Sharpie-type pen (permanent ink) for labeling containers
  4. Ziploc bags
  5. Leak-proof shipping box (First choice is a cardboard box with a styrofoam liner; it will contain any leakage or moisture and will keep the sample cool).
  6. Absorbent material for padding (such as wadded newspaper or paper towel)

How to pack:

  1. Once collected, make sure the milk sample stays cold or frozen. If it is frozen, please mention this on the submission form.
  2. Make sure the cover to the milk vial is secured shut so it won’t open while shipping. Snap caps are usually fine if well-shut. If using a screw cap, apply tape around the lid after firmly closing it.
  3. If possible, put individual vials into their own Ziploc bags, and seal well.
  4. Seal all samples into a large Ziploc bag.
  5. Use re-freezable cold packs, NOT wet or dry ice, to keep the sample cool. Put the ice pack into a separate Ziploc bag so it won’t leak into the package as it melts.
  6. Tape the sample bag onto the cold pack bag; this will help keep the samples cold.

Where to send:

University of Maine Animal Health Lab
Cooperative Extension
5735 Hitchner Hall, Room 133
Orono, ME  04469-5735
(207) 581-2789 / (207) 581-4430 fax

REMEMBER: No leakage, no moisture, no odor, and a cool sample. Leaky packages may not be delivered. Wet packages are considered to be hazardous, so avoid leaks.

SHIP EARLY IN THE WEEK: Mail is not delivered to the lab on weekends or holidays; samples sent late in the week may be unrefrigerated until delivered to the lab on the next working day.


All livestock, poultry, wild animal or welfare cases should be accessioned using the Production Animal Form (PDF).

All pets (dogs, cats, companion non-poultry birds, small exotics, other “pocket pets”) should be accessioned using the Companion Animal Accession Form (PDF). Companion animal cases must be submitted by a licensed veterinarian.

Use the Milk Sample Submission Form (PDF) when submitting milk samples.