Avitrol Plus label warning explained

Author: Aussie Chook Supplies  

Avitrol Plus is an incredibly popular wormer of choice for many poultry keepers due to the fact that it covers pretty much any possible worm that affects chickens/poultry. It also comes in tablet form which many owners prefer to use, making administration relatively straight forward, as well as the reassurance that their chickens/poultry have had their individual accurate dosage.
Most other available wormers come in liquid or powder (to be made into a liquid) which can have administration complications with birds refusing to drink the water.

However, on it’s packaging it states very clearly “Not to be used in food producing species.” These words often strike fear and confusion into the hearts and minds of the new poultry keeper. But do you MEAN “Not be to be used in food producing species?!?!? I was recommended to buy it? I don’t understaaaaand….”

Fear not… this article breaks it all down for you so it will (hopefully) make more sense in a few minutes. Basically it relates to what is termed ‘withholding periods’ and it’s relationship to the active ingredients in the product. For this article we will be discussing it directly relating to the Avitrol Plus range of products but this information can be more broadly applied to any product that has ‘Not to be used in food producing species” on it’s label.


What is a ‘Withholding Period’ with chicken/poultry medications?

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 given treatment.

NIL withholding period means that you can safely eat eggs/meat from treated poultry without worrying about any chemical residue being in your food.

Withholding periods are determined by extensive research and testing from the relevant Government Authorities. This research is very, VERY expensive and very time consuming, taking many years. This is why the only areas that can afford to do this on a wide scale are the commercial egg and meat industries.

Commercial cage egg farms have no need to test and/or treat for worms because their chickens have no exposure to the ground. In comparison backyard poultry flocks have the relative freedom to scratch the ground, eat God knows what and gorge on unknown quantities of insects. Some of these insects are potential hosts to roundworms, tapeworm and others.

Avitrol Plus has an active ingredient called ‘praziquantel’, which is essential for the treatment of tapeworm. There has been no testing done for praziquantel as an ingredient, therefore products with this ingredient have no known withholding period.

This doesn’t necesssarily mean that there is no chemical residue in your eggs/meat or that there is loads and you can get sick… it means it is UNKNOWN.

As a result, manufacturers of products with praziquantel as an active ingredient, including Avitrol Plus, simply recommend that you don’t consume the eggs or meat from treated chickens/poultry. Ever.

Using any product for a use other than what it is intended is broadly referred to as ‘Off label’ treatment. So using Avitrol Plus for worming chickens with the intention/awareness of eggs consumption is considered to be ‘off label’.

Now…. That’s the official line.

But CAN we eat the eggs if we decide the risk is minimal?

In reality, there are quite a lot of backyard chicken keepers who are comfortable with consuming eggs laid by chickens/poultry treated with Avitrol Plus. It is a product that has been around for decades and poultry keepers have reported extended use and consumption of the eggs after treatment with no visible/known/dire side effects.

You may also hear/read/find that the statistic of ‘minimum two weeks withholding period’ is commonly bandied about regarding the consumption of eggs after treatment with Avitrol Plus.

This is purely a judgement call from someone who has made that decision for themselves.

Other poultry keepers also prefer to use Avitrol Plus to worm their chickens annually during the winter months, when their chickens aren’t laying (and therefore no eggs to consider).

Aussie Chook Supplies does not make any recommendation one way or the other about the use of Avitrol Plus wormer and the ability to eat the eggs after the use of this product. But now, hopefully you now have a bit more information to make an informed decision as to what is best for you and your family.

Okay… can we at least feed the eggs back to the chickens if we don’t want to eat them for two weeks or so?

Some chicken keepers choose to err on the side of caution and prefer to not to eat the eggs produced for up to two weeks or four weeks. But then they decide to cook the eggs and feed them back to their chickens. Free food, a great protein boost and chickens love it. Also a fantastic no waste solution… but my concern with it is this…

Aren’t you then just reintroducing the microscopic levels of potentially harmful ingredients that have come through the eggs in the first place, back into the digestive system and blood stream of the chicken again? Yes, technically the amounts would be lower but… think about it?

Maybe a better option might be to crack one every couple of days over your dogs food (or a friend who has dogs) or bury them in your ornamental flower patch and take them out of the food chain completely.  Still better than throwing them away completely?!