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    Goat Health Conditions and Urinary Calculi

    If you have a herd of meat goats kept in a feedlot that are fed a high-concentrate ration, your goat herd could be susceptible to urinary calculi, a metabolic condition in goats sometimes refered to as "water belly". Early detection is vital to preventing the condition from becoming life-threatening to the goat.

    What are Urinary Calculi?

    Urinary calculi, or water belly, is a condition that is most often seen in young, castrated male goats that are fed grain. This condition has also been seen in uncastrated males and usually results in the goat being removed from the breeding pool. Urinary calculi, or urinary "stones", cause the urethra to become blocked and the flow of urine to become strained or impossible. Anatomic factors, decreased water intake or increased water loss, or castration practices are all possible causes of this condition, and the assistance of a veterinarian is usually required.

    Signs of urinary calculi in goats include:

    • Restlessness or anxiety
    • Tail twitching
    • Excessive bleating, or vocalization, in goats
    • Straining and forcing urination
    • Rectal prolapse
    • Drops of bloody urine or crystals attached to the preputial hairs
    If left untreated or under-treated, urinary calculi can cause the goat's urinary tract to rupture. In this case, surgical intervention would be needed.

    How to Prevent Urinary Calculi

    Here are some ways you can reduce the chance of urinary calculi in your goats:

    • Provide a constant supply of clean, fresh water.
    • Increase the concentration of salt in the goat ration up to 4% to promote water consumption and diuresis, or increased urine production.
    • Consider using urinary acidifiers.
    • Provide 1% - 2% ammonium chloride along with grain. Concentrations of ammonium chloride as low as 0.5% have been successful in controlling urinary calculi.