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Goats/Urinary Calculi


We are caring for our neighbor's goats and free range chickens while they are on vacation which we have done before.  Last night one of the neutered males started straining and long story short, he had to be euthanized today (the owner made this decision) due to stones.  

We are devastated and trying to determine if this is something we caused. The 3 goats, two neutered males and one female, have access to a large pasture during the day and normally get a handful of grain at night.  I found that our son had been giving the 3 goats a scoop instead of a handful for 5 nights.  

The vet said stones develop over a long period of time but that an increase in phosphorous, such as that in the grain, could cause the stones to grow and cause the blockage.  She didn't want to say if 5 nights of increased grain could have caused this to happen.  We (my husband and I) have both owned goats, but only does.  Any idea if the 5 day increase would have caused it, or if it would have happened at some point regardless because the smaller stones were already there?  Need some reassurance but honesty, our friends do not blame us whatsoever, but we're really struggling...

I am SO sorry for everyone concerned.. :(
Hard to say.. but yes they do develop over a long period.. usually you will see signs of not being able to urinate  before it gets to the point of euthanasia - they will act what folks think looks like constipation.. or kicking at the belly  some folks mistake for kicking at flies.. standing in urination pose but not producing urine - stretching the belly - sometimes  near the end ... vocalization.
The additional grain may not have helped.. but I highly doubt is he came to you free of UC deposits and they were formed at your house with a scoop of grain.. daily.. for 5 days. Also depends on a few other things..  early castration (which I Always try to discourage  castrating before 6 months old.. ) and water intake.. now water at different homes is different enough that he may not have  been drinking as much water as he should have been for these 5 days. I honestly would say water is most likely the culprit.. if he had not drank enough water in the last few days.. this may have brought it on.. quickly..
A link to  a UC article that explains a lot:



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.


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!


-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
-baking soda

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.



-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 goat 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

Again, I am So very sorry..  for all of you.. :(   Bottom line? I believe he most likely had stones before he came to you.. with the high heat and depending on water intake, could have happened at his home just as much as it happened there. I suspect he was  probably castrated at an early age, before 6 months old. As you can see in my castration article ( )I suggest waiting until 6 months of age  to allow for the urethra to develop- less chance of UC later in life.

I know you wanted a more definitive answer.. I am sorry ..  


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Specializing in New Goat Owner understanding of goat physiology, goat anatomy, goat care and herd management. *I am not a veterinarian, any advice and information should be verified by your veterinarian before administering to your goats. (! During times of severe weather in the Midwest, I may experience a delay in internet service due to the interference of the satellite reception - but will answer your questions as soon as service is restored. !) Note: Keep in mind, the goat expert is volunteering her time to help other goat owners, she also runs her farm with her own herd of 100 goats and may not be at her computer at all hours. Questions are answered as soon as she can possibly read and answer them, usually within 24 hours.


23 years experience of raising goats and herd management. Active hands on experience with goat herd and research with various Caprine University Research and Extension Centers nationwide. 15 years dedicated to helping other goat breeders/owners with goat anatomy, goat disease and goat health care issues via phone, published goat care articles and internet interaction. The information I have to offer is not only from personal experience and years of research updated often as new information is made available to me, but supported by many Veterinary Research colleges and all medications and information I have to offer on how the medications work and what dosages "I" use, is information I have acquired by discussing directly with the company's veterinarians and staff research experts.

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