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Home Tests & Tools for Worm Control Drenches for Goats: Using Products Correctly and Legally

Drenches for Goats: Using Products Correctly and Legally

The legal use of products not registered for goats requires an off-label recommendation from your veterinarian. A veterinarian should be consulted to recommend the most effective product and dose for goats to avoid serious complications regarding drench effectiveness, safety for goats and potential meat or milk residues.

Anthelmintics are products that kill gastro-intestinal worms. Here we will describe them as drenches, regardless of whether given orally or by injection.

The range of products registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for treating goats is much smaller than those for sheep. There are even fewer for dairy goats.

Goats metabolize some drenches more rapidly than sheep and hence goats often need a different dose rate than sheep. Unfortunately, many goat breeders only use the sheep drench dose rates and this has led to the development of resistance, which is now very common in many goat herds.  However, care must be taken not to overdose animals, especially where weights of animals are only estimated. Some drench actives have relatively low safety margins.

If drenches are misused and result in chemical residues in goat meat and milk products that exceed the Maximum Residue Limits, Australia’s valuable goat-export markets can be jeopardised.

At any time that you use a drench product not registered for goats or at a dose rate different to the rate specified on the label you are legally required to obtain a veterinary prescription.

Your veterinarian is best placed to prescribe the type of drench/es and the appropriate dose rate and withholding periods for your goats, as well as the manner in which it should be used so that it is safe, effective, will keep chemical residues in goat products under the Maximum Residue Limits, and so that its use does not result in rapid development of drench-resistant worms on your property.

Veterinarians can access the latest technical material about goat drenches specifically for veterinarians.
Email us (provide your name, address, state and veterinary registration number).

Watch the video extract from the ParaBoss Conference 2018 on Goat drenches and doses, presented by Dr Sandra Baxendell.

Watch the video on YouTube from the ParaBoss webinar series 2022 on ‘Sustainable worm control in goats, presented by Dr Matt Playford with Dr. Berwyn Squires.

Drenches currently registered for goats

Below is the list of worm drenches that are registered and commercially available for goats to control worms (as of April, 2022). Goat registration status may change:  always check the label before use. Product availability may change, as new products are introduced and old ones discontinued.

Table 1. Drenches registered and commercially available for use in goats in Australia

Drench name
Oralject Goat And Sheep Wormer Broadspectrum Anthelmintic Paste For Goats And SheepVirbac
Alben Broad Spectrum Anthelmintic For Sheep, Lambs And GoatsVirbac
Valbazen Broad Spectrum Sheep Lamb And Goat DrenchCoopers
WSD Albendazole Broad Spectrum Sheep, Lamb And Goat DrenchWSD
WSD Fenbendazole Oral Anthelmintic for Sheep, Goats and CattleWSD
Coopers Panacur 25 Oral Anthelmintic For Sheep Cattle And Goats*Coopers
Oxfen LV Anthelmintic For Sheep Cattle And GoatsVirbac
Flukare C plus Selenium Virbac

* Coopers Panacur 25 and WSD Fenbendazole are the only products with a milk withdrawal time (24 hours) registered for dairy goats. The other goat-registered products have a statement (or similar): “Do not use in female sheep or goats which are producing or may in the future produce milk for human consumption”.

The following list shows drench actives used in sheep drenches that are NOT available in products registered for use in goats (a common product example is provided in brackets).

  • Levamisole (e.g. Nilverm®)
  • Closantel (e.g. Closicare®)
  • Moxidectin (e.g. Cydectin®)
  • Abamectin (e.g. Virbamec Oral®)
  • Monepantel (e.g. Zolvix®)
  • Derquantel (e.g. Startect®)
  • Naphthalophos (e.g. Pole-Vault®)
  • Praziquantel (e.g. FirstDrench®).

If you need to use drenches for worm control in your goats you should

  1. Use the WormBoss worm control program for your region, which provides information to minimise the effects of worms throughout the year. Importantly, it also includes information about the choice and use of drenches to slow the development of further drench resistance.
  2. Use the Drench Decision Guide to find if and when to drench, and what to do next.
  3. Consult your veterinarian about dose rates and a veterinary prescription.

Are cattle and horse products suitable for goats?

Unless specifically stated, horse and cattle products are generally unsuitable for goats, due to their formulation.

If using any anthelmintic NOT registered for goats, a DrenchCheck is essential—WormTest before use and 14 days later, or at a time recommended by your advisor for long acting drenches—to check effectiveness.

See further below for legal use of products not registered for goats.

Horse products

As these products are sold in individual syringes, they are attractive to hobby goat owners due to their small quantities and convenience. However, while the active may be the same as some sheep drenches, the formulation is different. These products are designed for horses and, especially with pastes, dose rates will be difficult to measure for goats.

Cattle pour-on products

Semi-commercial goat producers who also have cattle sometimes want to use pour-on products registered for cattle on their goats due to convenience and because they appear to have higher dose rates. Goats have much less subcutaneous fat than sheep and cattle and this can affect the absorption of pour-on products that must be applied along the back and then absorbed into the fat layer under the skin.

Recent research from the University of New England showed that one commonly used cattle pour-on product was not effective, even against susceptible worms at dose rates as high as 2.5 times the label rate.

Two other cattle pour-on products were effective against susceptible worms, but achieved variable effectiveness against field strains of worms on trial farms—on one farm it was only 30% effective at the dose rate that killed susceptible worms.

Pour-ons should never be used as an oral drench, as the liquid in which the active ingredient is dissolved can be toxic to the lining of the gut.

Are sheep drenches suitable for goats?

There is research on some, but not all sheep drenches and their use in goats. Most are known to be effective on goats, but a different dose rate is required. Read the section below about legal requirements regarding use of drenches that are not registered in goats. Your veterinarian can advise you further.

Overcoming drench resistance

Worms that are drench-resistant, that is, the particular drench does not kill them, are on all goat farms; it is simply the severity of that resistance that varies. This applies to drenches registered for goats, or sheep or cattle products used in or on goats. It is impossible to tell the level of effectiveness by observation. Instead, a DrenchCheck or a DrenchTest must be undertaken.

As goats metabolise drugs faster than sheep and cattle, they require a higher dose rate to simply achieve the blood concentrations (similar o sheep and cattle) needed to kill susceptible worms. Those higher dose rates vary according to the drug active. Giving even higher dose rates to overcome drench resistance should not be used. There is a real risk of overdosing, resulting in toxicity, especially with levamisole and with abamectin (especially in young animals or where concurrent drenches that each contain abamectin are used).

WormBoss describes the strategies that should be used to kill drench resistant worms and to slow the rate of development of further drench resistance. Among these, when using drenches, is to treat with a number of drench groups at the same time each time you drench, using those shown by testing to be most effective on your property. Another very effective strategy to slow development of drench resistance that smallholders can use is to drench only the individuals that require a drench based on individual assessment using worm egg counts, and/or FAMACHA scoring (eye conjunctiva colour), and/or regular weighing and condition scoring.

Guide to legal use of drench products that are not registered for goats

There are strict regulations about veterinary medicines in Australia. However, veterinarians can prescribe the ‘off-label’ use of some worm drenches not registered for goats. This means that you can get a veterinarian’s written and tailored instructions to use certain sheep worm drenches for goats. A veterinary prescription is required for use of all drenches on goats because:

  • Goats require a different dose rate and withholding period to that on the label (even on products registered for goats).
  • Many drenches are not registered for use in goats.

While the Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is responsible for the registration, label particulars, importation and the regulation of veterinary medicines, including worm drenches, this authority stops at the point of retail sale, i.e. when the product goes across the counter of a rural merchandise store. Then the regulatory responsibility for use of veterinary medicines, such as worm drenches, lies with each state or territory, generally with government departments serving agricultural industries.

Exports of Australian goat meat, worth $242 million1 in 2021, could be in jeopardy if chemical residues are found in goat meat products, either by the National Residue Survey conducted by the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources or by one of the many countries that import Australian goat meat. Findings of the National Residue Survey, which includes results of any residues found in goat meat, are published annually on the web by the department and all overseas buyers can review these findings.

It is particularly important that goats intended for human consumption are not treated with chemicals that could result in excess chemical residue levels in the meat or milk products.

Whilst the vast majority of goats for meat are run in the rangelands of Australia where drenches are infrequently used, it is the larger number of goat owners running smaller number of goats in the moderate to high rainfall areas that are likely to put the goat export market at risk through their misuse of drenches.

Whilst the vast majority of goats for meat are run in the rangelands of Australia where drenches are infrequently used, it is the larger number of goat owners running smaller number of goats in the moderate to high rainfall areas that are likely to put the goat export market at risk through their misuse of drenches.

Veterinarians can only issue prescriptions if there is a true client–veterinarian relationship and the veterinarian is familiar with your farm and your farm management practices. This normally requires a visit within the last 6–12 months. As veterinarians must give a withholding period for goats on the new label, this requires some extra research and documentation, and  your veterinarian may need to consult with colleagues.

Australia has an on-farm food safety program: the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program, administered by Meat & Livestock Australia. When LPA auditors arrive on properties they will request to see these written prescriptions if any worm drenches have been used that are not registered for use in goats or have been used at a different dose rate from that on the label.

Can I legally share a drum of drench with another goat farmer or via a goat club?

While buying a large drum of worm drench is not convenient if you have only a small number of goats, there are laws preventing reselling or distributing small amounts of drench by people other than veterinarians.

Providing you do not split or repackage the contents (i.e. the contents remain in the original package) you can share the pack with others (each user must thoroughly shake the contents before use and ensure no contamination of contents occurs).

However, unless you are a registered veterinarian, it is illegal to take smaller amounts of product from the original package and repackage them in other bottles or containers.

Registered veterinarians (see section above) can prescribe and repackage a worm drench, but there are strict requirements about the records that the veterinarian must keep, the new container and also how they must relabel the new package e.g. with your name and details, dose rates and withdrawal periods. They can only do this for bona fide clients, with whom they have an ongoing relationship, including a good knowledge of the goats and their management. Veterinarians cannot repackage and sell to someone who is not a regular client.

All goat owners should have a veterinarian with whom they have an ongoing relationship i.e. the veterinarian has visited your farm and knows how you manage your goats. This is essential as eventually you will have an emergency goat health problem and will need a veterinarian’s advice in a hurry. Your veterinarian can also then repackage and sell you small amounts of drench to treat your goats.

Alternative products

Many goat owners want to use natural products on goats but many of these have been shown not to be effective. However, all goat owners have an obligation to seek veterinary attention and treatment if there are serious health issues, such as high worm burdens, in their goats. Treating clinically ill goats with a treatment that is not registered for use in goats and which is known not to work, does not mean that you have met your animal health obligations. Read more about alternative treatments in the MLA document listed below.


1. Australia MLA Australian goat industry summary 2016 (2016) Meat and Livestock Australia. 

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