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Extra-Label and Off-Label Medications for Goats

Navigating Antibiotics and Anthelmintics for Goats: Understanding Extra Label Use and Off-Label Medications

Maintaining the health of a goat herd involves careful consideration of medications, including antibiotics and anthelmintics. When it comes to using these drugs in goats, terms like “extra label” and “off-label” may surface. In this article, we will explore the meanings of these terms, their safety and legality, the challenges faced by drug manufacturers, and the crucial aspects of administering medications to goats.


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what does extra and off-label mean for goat mediations?

Defining Extra Label and Off-Label Use:

  1. Extra Label Use:
    • Extra label use refers to the administration of medications in a manner not specified on the drug’s label. This may include using a drug for a different species, at a different dosage, or for a different condition than indicated on the label.
  2. Off-Label Use:
    • Off-label use is similar but typically involves the use of a drug outside the parameters approved by regulatory authorities, such as the FDA. This can include using a drug for a condition that hasn’t been officially approved.

Most medications used for goats are considered off-label or extra-label.

Safety and Legality:

  1. FDA Regulations:
    • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates veterinary medications. Extra label and off-label use are generally legal under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA) as long as they are under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian.
  2. Importance of Veterinary Guidance:
    • Establishing a good relationship with a veterinarian is crucial for obtaining prescriptions and ensuring proper guidance on medication use. Veterinarians can provide expert advice tailored to the specific needs of the goat herd. But you may realize that it’s hard to find a goat vet in your area or a vet that knows much about them. That’s why it’s so important for you to learn what you can about goats and the medications they may need. 
    • Some vets will resist using medications off or extra label because they have a higher risk associated with their license. But this doesn’t mean that the medication isn’t effective or doesn’t work. 

Challenges Faced by Drug Manufacturers:

  1. Decline in Goat Population:
    • Drug manufacturers face challenges in obtaining label approval for medications in goats. The decline in the goat population in the U.S. has made it economically unfeasible for manufacturers to invest in obtaining label approval, given the costs involved. This is why most medications in goats are considered off-label or extra-label. 

Understanding Goat Metabolism and Medication Administration:

  1. Fast Metabolism:
    • Goats have a fast metabolism, which affects how medications are absorbed and metabolized in their bodies. Understanding this metabolism is crucial for accurate dosing and effective treatment.
  2. Importance of Knowing How Drugs Work:
    • Knowing how drugs work is essential for ensuring their efficacy and safety. Understanding the mechanisms of action helps in making informed decisions about drug administration and potential interactions.

Withdrawal Time and AMR:

  1. Withdrawal Time:
    • Withdrawal time refers to the period after medication administration during which animal products like milk or meat should not be consumed to ensure that residues are below regulatory limits. It is essential to adhere to withdrawal times to prevent potential health risks for consumers.
    • Some medications that have a short withdrawal time aren’t as effective in goats. 
    • In many countries except in the U.S., people take oral dewormers. Many people in the U.S. are conserved with withdrawal times of dewormers. You as the goat owner, must be aware of and take the necessary steps to inform yourself what you believe about withdrawal times when giving dewormers. If you sell the meat and milk, keep in mind how your customers feel about these topics. 
  2. Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR):
    • AMR is a growing concern globally, affecting both human and animal health. The misuse or overuse of antibiotics can contribute to the development of resistant strains of bacteria, emphasizing the importance of responsible antibiotic use in goats.

Illegal Drugs for Goats:

  1. Understanding Legal Restrictions:
    • Some drugs are illegal for use in goats due to potential health risks or the absence of regulatory approval. It is crucial for goat owners to be aware of these restrictions and only use medications prescribed by a veterinarian.
    • Baytril 100 is legal to use with cows and illegal to use in goats. There is only politics involved with this decision.


Navigating the world of antibiotics and anthelmintics in goat care requires a nuanced understanding of terms like extra label and off-label use. While these practices are legal under veterinary guidance, the challenges faced by drug manufacturers and the unique characteristics of goat metabolism underscore the importance of responsible medication administration. Building a strong partnership with a veterinarian, adhering to withdrawal times, and avoiding illegal drugs contribute to the overall health and well-being of goats, ensuring safe products for consumers and addressing the global concern of antimicrobial resistance.

There’s a lot more to learn about goats: Raising Goats Resource Page.

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