Publication Date: October 18, 2007
Urinary Calculi, also know as Kidney Stones or Water Belly, has become the worst enemy of our 4-H and Open Show Wethers
Showing 4-H and Open Show Market Wethers has EXPLOEDED throughout the Country! It's a great project for beginners and novices alike. The project teaches feeding, finances, health, general care, sportsmanship etc.
WHAT IS UC
UC is the formation of Calculi (stones or crystals) in the urinary tract. The most common Calculi found in goats on a high concentrate diet is the "Struvite" type.
SYMPTOMS OR SIGNS OF UC
Tail twitching, restlessness, anxiety, kicking at the belly, not wanting to eat, a hunched back as they strain to urinate (this sign is the same as constipation and bloat), groaning or bleating while trying to urinate.
The goat may show one or more of these signs. You must watch carefully to see if the goat is urinating! If you see these signs "REMEMBER" you can not make the goat urinate!
CAUSES OF UC
-High concentrated feeds for a long period of time
-When the calcium/phosphorus ratio gets out of balance
-Castrating or banding buck kids too early
-Not enough water intake
-Sulfur in the water, mineral composition of the drinking water
LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE ABOVE CAUSES OF UC
High concentrated feeds for a long period of time: Goats aren't built to eat large amounts of grain. Goats are Browsers and prefer forage such as leaves, poison ivy, multi-floral rose etc. They can live solely on forage with no grain supplement if the forage is plentiful! If there is no forage or pasture available they can be fed a GOOD QUALITY Hay. Goats are ruminants. Their rumens can't work properly if they don't have access to forage/pasture or hay. If you feed commercial feeds (grain or pellets) "THEY MUST HAVE HAY" etc. for their digestive systems to work!
The challenge comes when we are raising the Wethers for show and have a certain amount of time to get them up to weight. So we offer the goats as much grain/pellet feed that we can get them to eat (Remember they are foragers)
The main cause of UC more so than the amount of grain fed is when the Calcium to phosphorus ratio gets out of balance! The calcium to phosphorus ratio in your goats feed should be calcium 2.7 to phosphorus .3 When this ratio gets out of balance you are putting your goat in extreme high risk of getting UC. The way this gets out of balance is when we start adding extra supplements to the already balanced commercial feeds. When you add supplements such as example: corn, roasted soy beans, soy bean mill etc. to the feed (showmen do this to make the goats grow faster, build muscle etc.) you just changed your calcium/phosphorus ratio.
Castrating male goat to early can cause problems also. When we castrate or band young male kids it removes the hormones needed for proper development of the Urinary Tract (the growth of the urethra stops) thus you have a large goat trying to function through a small urethra. The male urethra is long with many twists and turns. Calculi lodges in the winding small urethra blocking the urine flow.
Wethers that don't have access to water at all times can form UC. A pen of Wethers at a college ran out of water for a few hours one afternoon. The next day several died of UC. Water intake is important!
Mineral composition of drinking water especially Sulfur plays a role in the formation of UC.
Many producers will have available to their goat's free choice Baking Soda. This is done to help prevent bloating in the goats. However, Baking Soda is also a contributor to UC in male goats.
PREVENTING URINARY CALCULI IS MUCH EASRIER THAN TREATING UC
-Since we must supplement the Market Wethers with grain/pellets, choose a feed high in fiber (at least 10%). Pellet feeds are usually higher in fiber than the grain.
-Choose feeds that are labeled so you know the calcium to phosphorus ratio are in balance 2.7 / .3
-Offer PLENTY of forage/browse or good quality Hay
-CLEAN FRESH WATER AT ALL TIMES. If you wouldn't drink what's in their water bucket then it's time for fresh water
-Add Ammonium Chloride to the feed or water. Some commercial feeds already have this added. Read the label or ask questions!
-Acid Pack Treatment: Add to the water (This is a GREAT product)
-Add 3-4% salt to the feed. This will cause the goats to drink more water and reduce the incidence of UC
-Test you water! You can do this at your local Extension Office or purchase a fish tank test kit. The water PH should be neutral (a PH of 5)
-Buck kids should be castrated or banded NO EARLIER than 3 months of age
If you suspect your Woat has UC "DON'T WAIT" until he isn't urinating to get help. When he stops urinating the hope for survival is almost gone.
There is a surgery that can be performed however; it is extremely expensive and not economical.
If the Wether is still dribbling urine sometimes treatment will be successful.
Take the goat off all grain and feed. Feed only grass hay and water.
Call your Veterinarian or a local Breeder for help!
BEWARE of people who tell you not to worry about Urinary Calculi!
The number of Show Wethers that die each year is astounding!
You have the information!
Don't let your Goat be a statistic
Susan Schoenian, Western Maryland Reasearch & Education Center
Dr. tatiana Stanton, Cornell University, Ithaca , NY 14853
Urinary Calculi in Wether Lambs/Kid, By Richard V. Machen