Urinary Calculi (UC)

The other morning, while checking the herd, I noticed one of my yearling bucks crying over next to the fence. At first I figured he had gotten stung by a wasp or bee. But he kept it up. What a mournful cry! I checked on him a couple of time that morning, and didn’t really see anything, still figuring that he has been wasp stung. Around noon, I noticed he as stretched out to urinate and nothing was coming out. I began to worry. After I consulted with the utmost goat expert on our farm, Pat, we determined he had urinary stones (calculi). I called a friend who had been a paramedic and was raising goats to see if he knew what to do. His only suggestion was to do something in a hurry.

He had lost bucks to UC and has saved some bucks that had UC. His suggestion was to get in touch with the vet. I called Wyatt Galbraith and was told Wyatt could not make it to the farm until after 4 pm. With that information, the decision to haul the buck to the vet was made. Down the hill; separated the buck from the other bucks; loaded him; and off to the vet’s. I was told if I got to there before 2 pm, I would be the first seen when the vet came in from farm calls.

We arrived at the vet’s; I checked in and was told the vet should be returning in a few minutes. I unloaded the dude, and prepared for whatever Wyatt was going to do to him. Since I had shown this dude and he was trained to a lead, I felt comfortable with him on a lead. Wyatt arrived and confirmed our diagnosis.

According to Small Ruminant Production Medicine and Management by InfoVet.com, “Several factors, most relating to diet, contribute to the development of urinary stones. Some stones develop when goats and sheep are fed high levels of concentrates that tend to be high in phosphorus. Others develop when grass and cereal grains make up most of the diet or when forages high in oxalates (Halogeton) are eaten. Anything that causes the animal to drink and urinate less or increases the urine pH can also enhance stone formation. The most commonly formed stones are calcium phosphate (apatite), magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite), silicate, oxalate, and calcium carbonate.”

As I held the boy, Wyatt massaged the urethra and a stone came out (relatively small to my way of thinking but I'm assuming rather huge for a goat's way of thinking; but, then, I've never had kidney stones), followed by a little urine but not big stream from his overfull bladder.

Wyatt continued to work with him, until there was more urine, but the bladder was having spasms. A discussion was held between Wyatt and me, and we determined the buck should spend the night at the Animal Hospital. I walked him into the office and into the examination room where, finally, he emptied most of his bladder. Wyatt watched his urine output and gave him Banamine and ammonium chloride.

I was told to call the next morning to determine his condition. At 10 am the next morning I called; he had passed another stone earlier, and Wyatt wanted to keep him one more day to determine if the medication was working and to be sure he didn’t have any more stones getting hung up.

The next morning I called, and he was ready to be shipped home. When I arrived, I was given Banamine for five days and an ammonium chloride solution, 20 cc per day, until I ran out of it.

According to Small Ruminant Production Medicine and Management by InfoVet.com, UC can be prevented by focusing on diet and proper supplements. “One important preventative measure is to have a proper calcium-phosphorus ratio of approximately 2:1 in the diet. Chemical analysis of the ration, especially of the forage portion, is advisable so that the proper levels of calcium can be fed. Avoid over feeding grains, and feed a grass/alfalfa hay mix if available. When feeding only grass hay, calcium supplementation may be required. Calcium levels are easily increased by the addition of dicalcium phosphate or calcium carbonate (limestone) to the ration. Lowering the pH of the urine (acidification of the urine) may be necessary in many situations. This is accomplished by the addition of 0.5-2.0% ammonium chloride to the ration. Ammonium sulfate in slightly higher amounts will also satisfactorily acidify the urine. When dealing with small groups of animals, feeding 90 mg/lb/head/day of ammonium chloride will help prevent the problem.” Fresh water is also important for prevention. Adding salt to feed will increase urine output and dilute the mineral content of the urine.

We checked with our feed provider and learned Goat Grower with Rumensin does contain a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus and does contain the recommended level of ammonium chloride. With that knowledge, our vet said this was probably just an isolated case – especially since the other 10 bucks in the pen with him had no problems. Quite possibly he had not been consuming enough of the salt/mineral available to him or had, with the cooler weather, not been drinking enough water.

Back on the truck, our buck had a good trip home; and, of course, since he had been off the place, he went into the quarantine pen for the next 10 days. Happy to be home, at least I think he is happy to be home, he would prefer not to be a pin cushion. But at least, all of his body functions are functioning…. at least he can pee without pain.


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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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