• Pour-on products are generally applied along the backline of cattle but some products (e.g. Fluazuron) recommend a side pour from the shoulder to the rump (follow the product label instructions).
  • The method is relatively fast, easy and safe and does not require the animal to be caught in a head bail, making it less stressful to the animal and less tiring to the operator.
  • Cattle should be weighed before treatment to determine the correct dose from the label.
  • Avoid application during rain (unless a rain-fast product is used) or where skin is affected with lesions or caked with mud or manure.
  • It is good agricultural practice not to handle or treat animals in the heat of the day.
  • Do not apply pour-on products before branding as some are flammable.
  • Follow the instructions on the product label and ensure equipment is in good order and calibrated before and regularly during use to ensure the correct dose.
  • To calibrate equipment, apply a set dose into a measuring cup or cylinder and check the volume.


A parasite population can develop resistance to a chemical through:

  • repeated use of the same active.
  • wide-spread under-dosing of a chemical (e.g. under-estimating the weight of animals being treated, poor application technique, uncalibrated dosing).
  • unintentionally exposing non-target parasites to chemicals (e.g. products to treat tick or lice can also affect worms).

What is resistance?

Pour-on applications can be susceptible to under-dosing (see points above) plus caked mud, lesions, wet skin etc can reduce chemical uptake. Social licking may also decrease the actual dosage received.


  • Ease of application.
  • Some products treat for more than one parasite (i.e. flies, worms, lice and ticks).


  • May result in less accurate dosing.
  • Repeat treatments may be required.
  • May have longer export slaughter interval (ESI).
  • Some products may be toxic to dung beetles.
  • Social licking may result in exchange of chemical between individuals.


  • Low risk of inadvertent chemical exposure If used according to label directions.

Everyone working in the rural industry has a ‘duty of care’; a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for everyone on the property.

Other information

How it works

The chemical works either by direct contact with the parasite or by ingestion of the active as the parasite feeds on the treated host. Depending on the chemical, the active ingredient is transported by spread across the surface of the skin via the oil layer (e.g. synthetic pyrethroids), or through the layers of the skin to blood vessels and tissues (e.g. macrocyclic lactones). If the formulation affects internal parasites the chemical is transported via the blood stream to cells and capillaries lining the gastrointestinal tract. There may also be re-secretion of the active ingredient into the lumen of the intestines where internal parasites reside.


All pour-on products have a degree of persistent activity which is specified on the label. Formulations combine active ingredient and solvent components (variable dependant on product) to produce chemistry that moves across the skin, or from skin to bloodstream, to the site of activity. This is followed by metabolism and a decaying profile until all the active is removed from the animal’s system. Some more recent formulations give prolonged release and metabolism of chemical, providing parasite control over extended periods.


Chemical actives can be formulated at different concentrations in different products. Historically, the concentration of pour-on products was two and a half times that of oral or injectable versions containing the same active ingredient.

Some formulations are made twice as concentrated as older products and are marketed as ‘low volume’. It is important that the dose rate is checked on the product label to ensure that it is appropriate for the application for which it is being used.


Social licking or allo-licking refers to licking between family groups in cattle herds. It presents an uncontrolled mechanism of exchange of chemical between individuals when the pour-on formulation is used. Transfer of chemical between individuals in this way is unlikely to be a problem if all animals in the mob are treated. However, if only a percentage of the mob have been treated then licking is thought to be responsible for a reduction in the applied product dosage to individuals, potentially leading to under-dosing. Without holding animals separately, little can be done to prevent social licking.