Urinary Calculi (stones) in goats has been a hot topic in the heat recently. Urinary calculi is a disease where crystals are formed in the bladder and get lodged in the urethra of male goats. This can result in difficulty urinating which could possibly lead to a ruptured bladder and in extreme cases, death. Female goats are generally not affected.
Diets that do not have desired 2.5:1 to 2:1 calcium to phosphorous ratio can contribute to issues with stones. This can occur in goats eating large amounts of concentrates. Other possible culprits include early castration (urethra does not develop in diameter), Urine pH ( you want a slightly acidic pH to reduce the likelihood of stones), Inadequate salt intake (salt intake helps increase water consumption thus flushing the bladder) – chlorine also helps reduce crystal formation and helps with hard water.
Having a high quality palatable feed with added ammonium chloride is a good start in helping prevent urinary calculi. Ammonium chloride in feed will acidify urine and will help reduce formation of stones. Ammonium chloride is not palatable so limited amounts are put in feed and will help keep goats eating. Keep in mind during this hot weather goats may back off feed resulting in less than desired ammonium chloride intake. In the heat, avoid abrupt changes in feed and amount being offered. If you are going to make a change in feeds do so slowly and remember supplementing 2:1 goat mineral and salt will help. Clean fresh easily accessible water is of great importance.
-Jake Pierce, Hueber Feed, LLC