Milk and Meat Withdrawal in Goats Following Drug Use

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Nothing ever dies on the Internet, and nowhere is this more true and more dangerous than when it comes to drug use in goats and other livestock. Because most livestock are food producing animals, this is far more important than getting drug use right in dogs and cats. One reason I raise my own food is because I don’t want to consume drug residue in meat and milk. It would be impossible for slaughterhouses to test every animal for every drug, but when I raise my animals, I know if they have ever had any drugs, and I know when and how much and how it was administered. Unfortunately there are many people who are unknowingly consuming drugs through their animals’ meat and milk.

When using drugs that are labeled for food animals, the meat and milk withdrawal will be on the label. Most people assume that means there will be no drug residue left in the meat or milk after that time has elapsed. However, that is rarely the case. Almost all drugs have a “safe/tolerance level” that is the maximum amount of the drug that can be found in testing. For this reason, we always wait longer than whatever time period has been established before we are willing to use meat and milk for human consumption after drugs are used. The FDA may think that 80 ppb tetracycline is an acceptable level of the antibiotic in food, but I prefer 0. I understand businesses want to get their products back into the sales channels as quickly as possible, but if I’m producing my own meat and milk, I really don’t mind waiting a little longer to be extra careful.

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Off-label drugs

Treating cattle, sheep, and pigs is fairly simple because there are plenty of drugs labeled for them, but goats are trickier. Very few drugs are labeled for goats, which means many are used off-label. That means there will be no dosage info or milk or meat withdrawal on the label for goats. You can NOT assume that it will be the same as it is for cattle. They are different animals, and research has shown that they metabolize drugs very differently. For example, the milk withdrawal for ivermectin given orally in cows is four times as long as it is in goats, but the same drug used topically has 0 days withdrawal in cows and 1 day in goats, and when injected it is 40 days in goats and 47 days in cattle.

Oral vs sub-q vs topical

There are some outdated websites that give a single withdrawal period for drugs, regardless of mode of administration. Unfortunately I see a lot of people on social media recommending the injection of ivermectin (Ivomec) and moxidectin (Cydectin) in milk goats. Most of those people are unknowingly ingesting dewormers in their milk. For example, if you give a goat an oral dose of ivermectin, the milk withdrawal is between six and nine days, depending upon the dose. However, if you inject the same amount that would have a six day milk withdrawal orally, the milk withdrawal for that same dosage when injected is 35 to 40 days!

If you inject moxidectin, the withdrawal period is two or three months while the oral is 12 to 18 days, depending upon which study you look at. Most sources simply say that moxidectin is not for use in milk producing animals, and a lot of people incorrectly assume that is because it has not been studied, so they guess that it’s about the same as the oral withdrawal period, which is a huge mistake. It is not practical to inject dewormers in milk-producing animals because the drugs stay in the goat’s system for so long that you would have to dump a lot of milk.

Where do you find credible info on withdrawal periods?

Conflicting information online is the biggest frustration I hear about from new goat owners. Why do so many websites and blogs have conflicting information? Unfortunately most online sites are not kept up to date. Some of the most popular old sites even say that they have not been updated in years, but people continue to use the outdated information on them. When it comes to drug use, you need the most current information that is based on research, especially when using antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a big problem in the US that causes thousands of deaths every year.

The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database is a website funded by our tax dollars and kept up to date by several universities. I’ve been using it for years and have seen a number of changes happen. You can use it to look up any drugs that are being used off label. You go through a series of drop down menus to choose species and drug, then you see a chart with dosage information and then a chart with meat and milk withdrawal. There are also links to the studies that were used to come up with the recommendations, if you want more information.

Articles about Dewormers

You may also listen to this podcast episode, Raw Milk Safety.

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16 thoughts on “Milk and Meat Withdrawal in Goats Following Drug Use”

  1. That report is from 2000, though. Very outdated. Best to have a vet contact them to get the info on the specific drug you’re interested. They won’t give info to people other than veterinarians. At least that’s how it was last year when I tried in NC.

    • Thank you for your comment. I don’t know how I accidentally put the wrong link in there. However, since I mentioned that there would be a drop-down menu, and it was linked to a PDF, that should have made it obvious that it was an incorrect link. I’ve changed it so that it is linked to FARAD, which is kept up to date by several universities. I’m not sure who wouldn’t give you info last year, but as I mentioned, the FARAD site has a drop down menu that anyone can use to get dosages and withdrawal times on off-label drugs. No phone call is required.

  2. Good morning! I used the link you provided to find info on injected tetracycline for goats. Unfortunately, the only option even offered was topical and it said 0 days. Do you have any advice or other sites to search for the injectable version? Also, can her bucklings still nurse while she’s being treated? They are just under 3 weeks old. Thank you!

    • Are you sure the drug you’re using isn’t oxytetracycline? That one is listed, and that’s the drug that’s in LA-200, Biomycin, and several other drugs that people call “tetracycline,” which are used in goats. It says 144 hours plus test, which means, “FARAD recommends testing the milk from treated animals to ensure it is free of residues of the parent drug and drug metabolites before it is marketed for human consumption.” This is for long-acting oxytetracycline, which means it stays in the milk longer than the standard oxytetracycline.

      Kids can continue to nurse regardless. Since this drug is used in humans, however, you really do not want to consume milk with residues in it, as this is what leads to antibiotic resistance in people.

  3. 5-31-20
    If you inject moxidectin, the withdrawal period is two or three months while the oral is 12 to 18 days, depending upon which study you look at.
    Where did you find this information? FARAD doesn’t have the injectable moxidectin listed.

    • They used to have it listed, but they removed the actual numbers a few years ago and replaced it with the statement that it is not to be used in milkers, which makes sense because who wants to dump milk for months? This number was verified by the University of Illinois a few years back when I had a goat there that had just given birth, and they gave her an injection of ivermectin, which has a similar withdrawal period. I was not happy and told them she was a dairy goat and should not have been given an injectable dewormer for that reason. I told them my source of info and asked if they had anything better. They called the manufacturer and were told the same thing. To be fair, it was a resident who did it, not a professor, but the info was verified by them when I brought it to the resident’s attention.

  4. This study ends with this statement: “milk of Brazilian mongrel goats treated orally with albendazole or ivermectin does not present their respective residues in detectable amounts from the 4th and 42nddays, respectively, after antiparasitic treatment.”

    There’s so much information out there…. We worm our goats orally with Cydectin and have for years. Our fecals are always really good and we have been very pleased with the results of our wormer and schedule. But I do wish there was a really definitive withdrawal period for goats while drenching with Cydectin.

    Study referenced:

    • Thanks for sharing that study. I’ve only had time to look over the abstract. It is saying that there was no detectable level of albendazole (Valbazen) at 4 days and no detectable level of ivermectin at 42 days, but that is not really helpful if you don’t know the dosage or the strength of the drug used, and since this was in Brazil, they probably have different products than in the US. But even in the US, we have different strengths of ivermectin for sheep, horses, and cows, and it is not labeled for goats at all.

      You also mentioned using Cydectin, which is a completely different drug than ivermectin and has different drug withdrawal times, which you can find at

      I’m concerned that you said your fecals are always good and you’re happy with your schedule. If fecals are good, you shouldn’t be using a dewormer at all, and current research says that deworming on a schedule leads to dewormer resistance. If you truly have no worm problems, then you are just wasting your money on the dewormer … because if you did have a worm problem, the worms would have become resistant to Cydectin a long time ago. The research shows that it only takes about two years of regular deworming for a dewormer to stop working, and my experience from 15 years ago was very similar to that.

  5. Do you have any way, other than human consumption, that you are still able to make use of your milk? I just started my goats on meds today, and it seems such a shame to just dump it.

    • I’m wondering the same. I have two mamas that I have had to treat orally with Cydectin for strongyles and Ponazuril for coccidia. From the information I’ve been able to gather, milk withdrawal for Ponazuril is 42 days, so I was hoping I could at least make soap with the milk.

      • Milk withdrawals were created to tell you when you can consume the milk without consuming drug residue. When you use soap, the soap is being washed down the drain. The government doesn’t have any regulations on ingredients of soap other than you can’t use something that’s going to cause harm like blinding someone. So, it’s really up to you as far as whether or not you feel it’s safe to use it for soap.

  6. We were told by the lady we just purchased our dairy goats from a month ago that Cydectin had a 0 milk withdrawal period. I was about to order it (not available anywhere near me and soo expensive) but then stumbled upon this article and checked the FARAD website which did in fact state a withdrawal period. Thanks for this article and that link!


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