Urinary Calculi

Urinary Calculi

Urinary Calculi are the formation of crystals along the urinary tract that will block the urine from finding its way out. The same thing happens in humans and is commonly called kidney stones. This is a very painful occurrence. It mainly occurs in bucks and wethers because their urethra is longer and has a few twists and turns when compared the females.  This is also a very dangerous event that often kills the goat.

Prevention is always the best choice. Make sure your goats drink plenty of water. In the winter time you made need to warm their water if you live in a really cold climate. Make sure to offer them clean water. They also need good free choice minerals designed for goats. Bucks and Wethers need plenty of roughage and browse. They need a well-balanced feed that contains a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. A feed should also contain ammonium chloride. Check your feed label. They DO NOT need large amounts of grain concentrates.  Many show goats are often over fed in an effort to finish them for the show ring. You are setting your buck or wether up for problems by doing this. Is winning the show important enough to possibly cause urinary calculi? That is why the American Fainting Goat Organization always stresses that we want our winners to be in good show weight and NOT over conditioned. We want our winners to be what they can be naturally. We want healthy goats!

Another thing we should talk about relates to wethers only. Many people band too early. The later you can band a wether, the better chance he has of not getting urinary calculi. I prefer to wait until 4-6 months of age myself. I know that is difficult if you want to sell the boys at weaning age. I have sold bucklings as wethers and then went to the new owners house to wether the little guys once they reached a sufficient age. I understand that this may not always be an option. I have also sent bucklings to their new homes with the promise that they would be banded at a later date by their vet. Their registration papers have them registered as a wether! That ensures their offspring if they have any later should not be registered. Again this isn’t the perfect solution. I just try my best as a breeder to give my goats the best options possible. If I have to wether them before they leave I generally try to wait as long as I can. At least 3 months even though I prefer longer. The problem is that the urethra needs to grow as much as it can to allow the solid particles to pass along the urinary tract.

Education to the new owners is really important. Make sure they know the signs and symptoms to look for. Make sure that they understand how to feed bucks and wethers. They are different than does. It is better in my opinion to feed no grain and only a good quality of hay if you don’t know how to feed the grain. Again education, education, education is the key.

If your goat does develop urinary calculi you should know what symptoms to look for. They may twitch their tail or appear to be restless. They may have a hunched body and appear to strain upon urination. There may not be any urine coming out. They may remain in the stretched  position longer than normal. They may be crying out in pain. They may be grinding their teeth. You may notice some swelling in the area. Many times your will notice blood! If you notice any of the signs you must act quickly.

Treatment for urinary calculi should at this point be to limit the water. At this point they have no place for it to go. It the bladder fills too much it can rupture and there is no cure. You may need to cut the pizzle. This is the curly appendage at the end of the penis. This may allow for the crystals to be passed. Give the goat some Banimine for pain. This will also help reduce the swelling. Next you should offer a bolus of ammonium chloride. Give 1 teaspoon mixed in 20cc of water for every 75 pounds. Remember we don’t need to give more water than necessary. This should be given twice a day for a few days and then cut the dosage in half and continue for the next few days. Ammonium chloride will burn the throat so it is best to use a stomach tube but I have given it as a drench.

Remember that it is always best to prevent than to treat!