"Not to be used in food producing species?" What the...??

Author: Aussie Chook Supplies  

These words often strike fear and confusion into the hearts and minds of the new poultry keepers. They buy (insert name of product) and get home, read the label and see the words Not be to be used in food producing species (or similar). But what do you MEANNot be to be used in food producing species’?! I was recommended to buy it? What does that mean? Will my chickens get sick? Will we get sick if we eat the eggs?

So what does Not be to be used in food producing species’ mean?

These warnings relate to the recommended animals that the product is formulated for and the use of these products on animals which are not mentioned on the labels.

More specifically, they relate to any ‘withholding period’ before an animal or its eggs are eaten by humans and its relationship to the active ingredients in the product.

It means that the product in question has only been formulated, tested and approved by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for use in that specific animal.

Using any product for a use other than intended is broadly referred to as ‘off label’ treatment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no chemical residue in your eggs/meat or that there are loads and you, your family or your chicken can get sick… it means it is UNKNOWN.

The only people who can legally give you information or recommendations about use and/or instructions for 'off label' use are licensed veterinarians - preferably an Avian specialist vet as they are more informed and educated about poultry than a generalist vet.


My product label doesn't specifically say "Not be to be used in food producing species". What else should I be looking for?

Depending on the product and the manufacturers labels, the wording can vary. Some examples of products that are sometimes recommended for 'off label' use say -

  • NOT TO BE USED on birds intended for human consumption.

  • DO NOT USE in birds intended for human consumption. 

  • NOT TO BE USED in food producing species of birds. 


  • [Insert product name] had been formulated to supplement the diets of caged birds etc etc.

Please note - The bold emphasis above is as written on the product labels and not written by Aussie Chook Supples.

Also look for products that specify their use is for small, ornamental birds like parrots, finches, canaries, cockatiels etc. That means that they are not recommended for use in species, like chickens/poultry.


I've been told that is safe to use but to 'withhold the eggs' for two weeks? What does that mean?

A withholding period is the amount of time you are recommended to NOT consume eggs or meat from the treated chickens/poultry, due to residual chemicals passing through to the eggs/meat from the treatment that has been given.

NIL withholding period’ means that you can safely eat eggs/meat from treated poultry without worrying about any chemical residue being in your food. There is no need to withhold eggs from chickens that have been treated.

Withholding periods are determined by extensive research and testing by relevant authorities. This research is very, very expensive and very time consuming; it can take many years to undertake. This is why the only areas that can afford to do this on a large scale are the commercial egg and meat industries.


I was told to 'withhold' eggs for two weeks (or insert recommended time period). What does that mean?

You may hear/read/find/be told that the statistic of ‘minimum two weeks withholding period’ is commonly bandied about regarding the consumption of eggs after treatment with a range of products.

This is purely a judgement call from someone who has made that decision for themselves. There is no hard science behind this timeframe.


Which products used in poultry are considered 'off-label'?

The following products used on poultry/chickens are considered to be used 'off label' when applied directly to the chicken or administered orally (or in food/water). This list is not exhaustive or complete by any means but they do include products that are widely used and/or recommended within the poultry keeping community -

  • Mavlab Oxymav B antibiotic powder
  • Any 'mectin' active ingredient-based products including (but not limited to) Ivermectin, Moxidectin and Abamectin
  • Avitrol Bird Mite & Lice Spray - Vetafarm Avimec Scaly Face Mite treatment
  • Vetafarm Avian Insect Liquidator
  • Vetafarm Triple C antibiotic powder
  • Vetafarm Coccivet Solution/liquid
  • Vetafarm Calcivet Solution/liquid
  • Vetafarm Breeding Aid
  • Vetafarm Avimec
  • Elanco Elector PSP concentrate
  • Coopex powder (depending on application)
  • Joseph Lyddy Crib Stop spray


What are the most common products that cause concern?

By far and away the most questions asked about 'off label use' are related to Avitrol Plus syrup/tablets and Wormout tablets.

Avitrol Plus packaging states very clearly ‘Not to be used in food producing species.’ On Wormout Tablets Pigeon and Bantam All Wormer it states ‘NOT TO BE USED on birds intended for human consumption. Bold emphasis is as per packaging (not ours).

Wormout tablets and Avitrol Plus are both incredibly popular wormers of choice for many poultry keepers due to covering almost every possible worm that affects chickens/poultry. Both are available in tablet form (which many owners prefer to use), making giving them pretty easy, as well as the reassurance that their chickens/poultry have had their individual accurate dosage.

But what do we (Aussie Chook Supplies) recommend?

Aussie Chook Supplies does not make any recommendation one way or the other about the use of products and their 'off label use'.

That is why you won't find any information on the Aussie Chook Supplies website regarding -

  • the application of any specific products for poultry,
  • recommended dosages,
  • withholding period recommendations
  • the ability to eat the eggs after the use of any products, and/or
  • the possible health ramifications for your chickens, yourself or your family.
We are not trained or registered as vets and we don't recommend anything but to follow the recommendations on the label.   
Hopefully you now have a bit more information to make an informed decision on what is best for you, your family and your chickens.

If you don't feel confident in making a decision about the "off label' use of products on chickens/poultry and want more specific information, you can either consult with a vet or contact the Manufacturer as stated on the product label.