Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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What does "off-label/extra label" actually mean to goat raisers? Are medications used off-label/extra-label illegal to use with goats?

All but a very few of the medications that are used with goats have been developed for other species of animals. Research, development, testing, and obtaining government approval are expensive and time-consuming. Manufacturers must see sufficient demand for new drugs so they can earn back their costs and make a profit. Colorado Serum is a prime example. Although the company had developed, manufactured, and sold goat-specific CD/T, C&D Anti-toxin, C&D Toxoid, pneumonia vaccine, and other products for years, the decision-makers didn't see widespread demand for a CL vaccine specifically tailored for goats until the company's marketing vice president got involved with Onion Creek Ranch's GoatCamp(tm). Ed Lehigh went back to his company and advised them of the tremendous interest in and demand for a goat-specific CL vaccine. Now Colorado Serum Company has under development a Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) vaccine for goats which should be available for purchase in late 2007 or early 2008. Demand is creating supply.

For the rest of our goat medication needs, producers have learned what works and doesn't work from other goat raisers, from vets knowledgeable about goats, or by trial and error in our own herds. Dosage amounts and frequency of administration have been adjusted for the goat's faster metabolism. Toxic reactions have been experienced, and we have learned what not to use with goats. Goat raisers often have more knowledge of what does and doesn't work than do available veterinarians. A significant reason for the existence of goat discussion groups on the Internet is to share information that isn't available elsewhere.

Administration of products which are not labeled for use in goats is called "off label/extra label" usage. This does not mean that such usage is illegal. It simply means that the manufacturers of these products have not spent the time or money to complete and submit expensive detailed research studies to obtain government approval to label them for use with goats. Using products off label or extra label is NOT illegal as long as the producer has a good working relationship with a veternarian and the vet has advised the producer on proper use and dosage of the drugs. When the choice is between using an off-label product to save your goat or let it die, the answer should be obvious. Develop a good relationship with your vet so that he/she knows about, supervises, and approves of your drug management practices.

What does "withdrawal time" of medications mean?

Certain drugs stay in the meat and/or milk of food animals for extended periods of time. The US Government is concerned that drug residues in meat or milk destined for human consumption will result in our developing resistance to medications. AMR is the term given this situation: anti-microbial resistance. Since new antibiotics are not being developed as rapidly as in previous decades, there is legitimate concern that "super bugs" may develop resistance to all known forms of antibiotics. The result could be devastating to human health. Producers should carefully evaluate the appropriateness of every medication; antibiotics, for example, should not be used unless symptoms (in this case, usually fever) indicate the need for them.

Veterinarians tend to recommend drugs with shorter withdrawal times when dealing with goats. Unfortunately, many drugs having shorter withdrawal times are also not effective. For example, Panacur (the name given Safeguard dewormer when dispensed by vets) has a very short withdrawal time. Even though it seldom kills stomach worms, many vets will often recommend its use instead of other dewormers such as 1% injectable Ivermectin, which has a longer (approximate 35 day) withdrawal time. A better approach would be for the vet to be aware of what each client's goats are being raised for. If they are breeding stock animals or pets, then withdrawal time is far less critical. If, however, the goat is being raised to produce milk or meat for human consumption, then withdrawal times are more significant.

Vets and other professionals are held to a much higher standard than unlicensed people. Even if they know that a product works, veterinarians may believe that they are risking their licenses by recommending off label/extra label usage. Using Formalin to control CL abscesses is a good example. It isn't illegal, but it also has never been reviewed for effectiveness or safety by drug companies or government agencies, so vets and other people with professional designations may react with horror if you broach this subject with them. That reaction does not mean that it doesn't work or is unsafe. It simply means that they are using, in layman's terms, the CYA approach ("cover your a--"). Some of you may say, "well then let's just get the government to look into it and give the OK to such usage." Be careful what you wish for. Bureaucrats and politicians have never seen an area that they would not wish to take over and regulate into eternity. Raising goats is difficult enough without giving mandatory rule-making power to people with very limited knowledge of agriculture in general and goat health in particular.

There are medications which are illegal for use in certain species of food animals in some states. Baytril 100 is one of those drugs. Baytril 100 is legal to use with cattle but illegal to administer to goats. The banning of such drugs comes from concern over humans developing resistance to antibiotics as a result of drug residue in meat and milk. You may ask why, with both of these species being food animals, Baytril 100 is legal in one species (cattle) yet illegal in the other (goats). The answer: money and politics. The cattle industry is highly organized with lots of money available for lobbying politicians to allow use of this drug. The goat industry is fragmented and without significant national representation. If you are looking for logic, the regulatory arena is not where you'll find it. These medications are available by vet prescription only and as such should be in very limited use and only when all other antibiotics are ineffective. Vet consultation is essential before using such drugs on animals whose meat or milk is not destined for human consumption.

Once again, this writer is not a vet and makes no specific recommendations either pro or con for off label/extra label usage of drugs and will not be held responsible for their use. Consult your veterinarian. This article is intended to educate and inform only.

Meat Goat Mania

Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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