The Signs and Symptoms
Urinary Calculi is a blockage in the urinary track in male goats and sheep. It is primarily found in market wethers fed a high grain diet. It is a fatal disease if not treated quickly. When phosphate salts form stones in the kidneys and then pass into the bladder, they cause a blockage in the urine stream (urethra).
The main cause in feed related Urinary calculi is the imbalance of calcium to phosphorus in the feed mix. The ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus should be no greater than 2:1. This is easy to determine by looking at your feed tag.
The best remedy for urinary calculi is prevention! Goats and sheep can die within a day or two if left untreated as the stones cause painful blockages of urine that back up the goats system and distresses the bladder and other organs into failure.
- Feed Tag – The Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio must not be greater than a 2:1 ratio. Here is a good example. Also ensure that your grain includes Ammonium Chloride in the mix. Look in the Ingredients list.
- Hay – Daily, hay should be fed in small amounts (hand full of Clover or Alfalfa). All ruminants (goats, sheep, cows) need daily hay/roughage. When they chew their cud from hay, it helps their stomachs to eliminate phosphorus through the saliva and feces, which avoids the urinary tract. Show Note: Hay can be pulled for a week or two before a show to alleviate a hay belly or that full look. But once your class is over, let them eat some hay.
- Ammonium Chloride – ½ tsp of Ammonium Chloride in each feeding. As a feed supplement, it reduces the chance of your goat developing Urinary Calculi (or Kidney Stones). It is works to reduce the acid and balance the PH in the urine caused by feed imbalances of Calcium to Phosphorus. All goat and sheep leaders should have a jar of Ammonium Chloride on hand for emergencies.
- Salt Blocks – Provide salt in your stall. Sheep can ONLY have the WHITE The brown salt block contain Copper which gives sheep Scours (diarrhea).
- Water – Plenty of Fresh, Clean and Cool Water.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Here is a list of symptoms to look for. Take notes or take pictures to show your adviser or vet.
Symptoms – Mild
- Hunched back
- Restless with a twitchy tail
- Stretches out to urinate often with small streams of urine
- Kicks or nips periodically at belly
Symptoms – Moderate to Severe
- Includes all the mild symptoms plus:
- Walking stiff
- Stretches out to urinate, but only drips and dribbles come out verses a stream.
- Urine may be bloody
- Bloated, kicking or nipping at belly
- Moaning or abnormally vocal
- Loss of appetite
- Severe – Laying down, stretched out and moaning – most likely irreversible & fatal.
Any and All Symptoms Require Immediate Treatment.
MILD STAGE - Treatment Steps
(Reduced urine stream but goat acts fairly normal)
- 1 tsp Ammonium Chloride on grain each feeding (morning & night).
- Monitor the changes in behavior and symptoms. Observe if the urination stream is improving from a dribble to a normal stream.
- If the symptoms are mild, the goat should show improvement within 12 hours or less.
- If no improvement after 12 hours, call the vet.
- Limit grain until improvement is seen. Feed will only worsen things.
Moderate – Severe Stage
- As a liquid treatment – give 1 1/2 tsp of ammonium chloride mixed in water or juice for 7-10 days. Administer in a drench into the mouth.
- 4 hrs. Later – Improvement should be seen in 4 hours. If not, call the vet.
- Withhold water to keep bladder from over filling.
- Report to the vet all that you have seen and all efforts you have made to improve the blockage.
Vets should be called when mild symptoms have not improved after 12 hours of treatment. Once the vet determines that Urinary Calculi is the problem, the vet will discuss what options can be performed. It is sad to see this pictures of distressed goats or sheep, but it is important to understand what they look like when bloating or urinary calculi occur.