Extra-Label Drug Use In Dairy Goats

Goat producers should be aware that there are no approved antibiotics for use in goats in Canada. Therefore any use is considered extra-label drug use (ELDU).

ELDU is defined as 1

  • Administration to a different species or production class (e.g., lactating versus dry versus weaned) than listed on the label
  • Administration of a different dose than listed on the label
  • Administration of a different volume per injection site than listed on the label
  • Administration via a different route than listed on the label
  • Administration at a different interval (frequency) than listed on the label
  • Administration for a different duration (length of time) than listed on the label
  • Administration for a differentindication (purpose) than listed on the label

ELDU May Affect Milk and Meat Withdrawal Times

A question frequently asked by producers is: "Are milk and meat withdrawal times for goats the same as for cattle?" The answer is NO! Drug withdrawal times for products used in an extra-label manner are based on maximum residue limits (MRLs) and scientific studies, and take into account government testing. If no MRL has been established for a drug in a particular species OR for milk/tissue, then ANY amount detected in milk/tissue constitutes a residue violation. This is one of the reasons why goat withdrawal times are longer than cattle withdrawal times.

In the past year, there have been incidents of violative residues in bulk tank milk due to misinterpretation of drug labels. Cases have involved the use of calf scour boluses to treat for diarrhea in lactating animals. As the label did not say "not for use in lactating animals", the product was thought to be safe. The various products are labelled for calves, foals, lambs and/or pigs and clearly do not list goats on the label. Even though one of the products did not say "not for use in lactating animals", the use in a species not listed on the label was ELDU and treatment should only have taken place under veterinary supervision/consultation.

Producer Responsibility

Additional cases of inhibitor violations have revolved around lactating goats accidentally accessing medicated feeds or medicated milk replacers. We strongly encourage all producers to ensure that all medications are stored appropriately and securely to prevent inadvertent exposure of animals to antibiotics or direct contamination of the milk.

As more milk is being collected in larger trailers, the cost to a producer of a violative residue has gone up dramatically. The cost to a producer for a full trailer load of milk that is rejected due to antibiotic residues can be $50,000. Producers are encouraged to discuss the amount of insurance coverage that they have with their insurance broker. In some cases producers are only insured for $10,000. As antibiotic inhibitor testing continues to evolve and more products can be detected, producers must be extra diligent in preventing residue contamination of goat milk and meat.


1 Extralabel Drug Use. (n.d.). Retrieved from: www.farad.org/eldu/eldumain.asp

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

Phillip Wilman, Dairy Food Safety Program, OMAFRA
Dr. Jocelyn Jansen, animal Health and Welfare Branch, OMAFRA

Creation Date: 09 August 2017
Last Reviewed: 28 August 2017