Urinary calculi is characterized by a blockage of the urethra resulting in difficulty or total inability to pass urine. Although it can happen to both male and female goats, it is far more serious in males. It is painful but not too serious in a female, because they can pass calculi easily through their shorter, wider urethra. But in the male goat it can be fatal. If this problem is developing, you will see the goat stretch and arch its back as it strains to urinate, or the urine will drip or dribble out. Other stress related symptoms include loss of appetite, depression and weakness.
Causes: Stones (calculi) pass from the kidneys into the bladder then into the urethra and block the passage of urine at some point along the way. Sometimes they gather at the very end of the penis and create complete blockage. One of the common causes is early castration. Because growth to the urethra is arrested at the time of the castration, the goat grows but the urinary tract can’t handle the job. When the problem is metabolic it is usually the result of offering free choice minerals that are high in phosphorus and low in calcium levels and feeding a high grain and low fiber diet.
Treatment: According to Dr. Matthews in ‘Diseases of the Goat’, complete catheterization is not physically possible. Surgery to reroute the urethra can be a life saver but leaves the goat unable to be used for breeding. One of the most practical home treatments is, at the first sign of a problem begin a series of oral doses of one and a half teaspoons of ammonium chloride or a tablespoon of ascorbic acid powder, Fruit Fresh or crushed up vitamin C tablets mixed with enough liquid (water, apple juice or gatorade) to dissolve it. Administer the mixture orally for 5 to 7 cays. The powder can also be sprinkled on a piece of sturdy bread with some jelly over the top, folded in half and fed as a jelly sandwich for 5 to 7 days. (bread is not a good steady ration for goats but is useful as a temporary measure if giving liquids orally is a problem for you or the goat). The next option may sound scary but a simple circumcision procedure, whereby the pizzle (foreskin of the penis) is removed with a pair of sharp scissors which may relieve the immediate problem within 5 minutes if the stones have gathered at the very end of the penis. (Be sure the area is well cleaned before proceeding).
Prevention: Proper mineral supplementation and feed regimen as mentioned earlier will help. Providing clean water at all times and even adding a teaspoon or two of vinegar to the water helps balance the pH. Male goats of any age should never have access to sodium bicarbonate because it works contradictory to what you are trying to accomplish in your prevention program. Mix 1.5lbs of ammonium chloride to every 25lbs of loose mineral and offer free choice. Also, avoid early castration.
Supplies For Treatment and Prevention: