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Urinary Calculi In Goats

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I don’t want you to learn the hard way what urinary calculi in goats means and does to goats… Because it’s not fun and it’s really heartbreaking.

Even though I did a good bit of research before bringing goats to our farm I, sadly, missed one critical thing I should have known about.

Male goats are prone to having bouts of what’s called urinary calculi and it can be life-threatening and really dangerous if not treated right away.

I found this out the hard way and I really want to try my best to help others realize what it is before something bad happens.

Before getting goats, I was told, “Goats do the alive to dead thing pretty fast.” And, while goats are fairly easy to raise, that is definitely the truth.

little goat that developed urinary calculi

Little Aspen before going to the vets

Urinary Calculi in Goats

After doing a lot of research in a short amount of time, I’ve found that Urinary Calculi is actually common in male goats that are castrated too early.

If they’re castrated too early their urethra won’t have time to fully develop and can lead to the urethra being too small to pass any stones that may form.

What is Urinary Calculi?

Urinary calculi is the development of stones in the bladder. Similar to kidney stones in humans, but male goats have an S curve (Sigmeid Flexure) in their urethra that poses issues when the goats have stones they need to pass.

This metabolic disease is caused by an improper balance of phosphorus and calcium and is likely caused by feeding grain to male goats.

The bladder will form stones and if they aren’t able to pass through the Sigmeid Flexure of the urethra it will cause a blockage where the goat is unable to urinate properly. 

If severe enough and not caught in time it can lead to the bladder rupturing and the goat dying.

How can we prevent it?

The best form of prevention is to either NOT feed any grains whatsoever or to feed a grain that has the proper ratio of calcium to phosphorus at 2:1. If the balance is off it that is what can lead to the formation of urinary calculi in goats.

You can also choose to add ammonium chloride to the top of their feed or dose them with a serving in water. If you’re feeding grain, however, be sure to look at feed bags to see if ammonium chloride and calcium phosphate are included. They are typically included at the proper rate so adding more 

What are the signs and symptoms of urinary calculi?

You might notice:

  • the goat being more standoffish than normal
  • fidgeting by standing and laying down
  • he might not want to eat like normal
  • he might not drink water

If you notice those things, it’s best to get a rectal temperature first to see if it could be something else. If his temperature is fine you can start by treating him with ammonium chloride. 

Emergency signs and symptoms of urinary calculi:

  • standing and trying to urinate but struggling
  • appearing to be constipated and struggling
  • whimpering while trying to urinate
  • crying
  • biting at his belly

If you notice any of the above it is imperative that you bring your goat to the vet.

If your goat has it, what can be done?

There are a few things that can be done to help your goat depending on the severity of his case:

  1. Dose with ammonium chloride
  2. Have your vet snip the pizzle to allow the passing of the stones
  3. They can go into the bladder and remove the stones
  4. Put a catheter in the bladder to allow it to drain
  5. In rare circumstances, they can re-route the urethra

little boy goat looking at the camera

Things you should have on hand to prevent urinary calculi or treat:

References: 

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