Anyone that has raised show wethers or market lambs knows about Urinary Calculi. Urinary Calculi is predominately caused by metabolic imbalances. Wethers on feed for show are put in an unnatural environment. Instead of being out in a large pasture with adequate browse, they are penned in a dry lot fed large amounts of concentrates and have their water intake limited. UC (Urinary Calculi) is painful and deadly if not treated promptly. It is costly to treat, and the prognosis is usually grim, but easily prevented.
Factors Contributing to Urinary Calculi
- Feeding a high concentrate/low roughage diet
- Improper Calcium: Phosphorus Ratio
- High magnesium or ammonia phosphate content diet
- Forages high in oxalates
- Feeding forage grown from silicate rich soils
- High or improper mineral content in drinking water
- Frequent illness or urinary tract infections
- Inadequate water supply
Goats are ruminants. Some roughage must be fed to keep the rumen healthy and functioning. When fed adequate roughage, excessive phosphorus is recycled through the saliva and is excreted through feces. Goats need a 2:1 Calcium Phosphorus (Ca:P) ratio. Diets low in roughage or high in phosphorus result in phosphorus having to be eliminated through the urinary tract. Diets high in calcium reduce the absorption of phosphorus from the GI tract. When you calculate this ratio be sure to include everything your goat eats - grain, hay, supplements. Learn to read your feed labels. Most prepared feeds give a minimum and maximum calcium level. Check your ratios for both ends of the scale. If the ratio is too high, consider purchasing a different feed. Other minerals such as silicates, oxalates, and magnesium have been shown to increase the incidence of urinary calculi. Water with a high mineral content may also be suspect.
Management is key in prevention of urinary calculi. If feeding a high concentrate ration (for your show wethers), feed frequent smaller meals, instead of one large one. Avoid feed preparations that contain milo. Make sure you concentrate contains 0.5 - 1.5% ammonia chloride added as a preventative. Provide free choice loose mineral or salt mix. This will increase their water intake. Delay castration of show animals till 10-12 weeks or 50 lbs. It has been suggested to wait even longer, 6-12 months, for animals that are to be kept as pets.
- Maintain proper Ca:P ratio
- Feed a diet that includes roughage
- Feed frequent small portions of concentrates
- Avoid feeds with milo
- Keep clean fresh water available
- Feed a concentrate with ammonia chloride added (0.5-1.5%)
- Have loose salt and minerals available (3-4% salt)
- Delay castration till the urethra matures
- Straining - frequent non-productive urination
- Abdominal discomfort - stretching, kicking, looking at their side
- Rapid tail switching
- Lack of appetite
- Appearance of being constipated
- Blood in urine
- Crystals on their hairs around the prepuce (sheath)
- Bloated abdomen
If you suspect urinary calculi you need to act fast. One of the things we stress to our kids is to watch their goats urinate twice a day. Get them up and watch them urinate, the quicker you start treatment the greater your chance of survival. Fist line of defense is ammonia chloride. Two teaspoons of ammonia chloride can be easily diluted with water and given as a drench - twice a day. Methionine can also be given. A catheter is often necessary to keep the animal urinating while the stones are dissolving, to prevent the bladder from rupturing.
Removal of the urethra process is also indicated. This can be done by laying the goat on his side, and rolling him up (head towards tail). Extend the penis through the sheath snip off the urethra process with a pair of clean scissors. Some prefer to set the goat on their hindquarters against the wall. Stand over the goat with his head behind you, between your legs. Either method will work. When you remove the urethra process urine should dribble out freely. This is the smallest portion of the UT and usually the first one to block. Blocks also occur in the sigmoid flecture (where the penis bends internally). This is usually serious and requires immediate surgery to correct. Catheterization is difficult under the best conditions, but with a blockage at the sigmoid flecture is almost impossible. Banimine or another smooth muscle relaxer can be given for pain.
There has been some success with a natural remedy to dissolve stones. A drench is made, given to the goat, and the goat is then laid on its back. Banimine is also given every 8 hours.
- 1/2 red onion
- Juice from 3 lemons
- 6 pods galic
- 1/4 C distilled water
Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Blend in a food processor and allow to cool. Drench goat with all of the liquid. Repeat treatment after 12 hours, then 24 hours, and every 48 hours (3x).