Urinary Calculi prevention and treatment

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by CrockettsLastStand, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. CrockettsLastStand

    CrockettsLastStand New Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Epping, NH
    My 4mo old Nigerian Dwarf wether is believed to have urinary calculi. 6 days ago, he and our other goat knocked over a 5 gallon bucket of chicken scratch feed that consists of mostly cracked corn and we assume he had himself a feast.

    The morning we discovered this, he showed symptoms which I incorrectly assumed to be bloat. He was given baking soda as well as Milk of Magnesia, vegetable oil and frequent rumen massages along with a few throat massages, yet symptoms did not stop. Unfortunately the vet was closed for the weekend, but he was brought in today.

    They tubed him and said very few gas escaped causing them to believe he was not bloated, however, they did give him mineral oil in case he had froth.

    Next they did a sonogram and told me his bladder is full and they believe he has urinary calculi and they're gonna cut of the tip of his penis.. I HOPE this procedure works, because if it does not, he is going to die since I can not pay $1300 for the other sugery.

    I want to prevent this from ever occuring ever again and do not want my second goat to have this.

    I read online about it and know about ammonium chloride and phosphorous/calcium ratio, but am confused.. The feed I have them on now is Blue Seal Meat Goat Grow and Finish, a medicated feed with decoquinate an ammonium chloride.. Apparently it was not so effective in preventing urinary calculi, BUT I have sweet coarse 14 mixed in with it.. They also have been getting on a regular basis, Manna Pro Goat Treat.... Have free choice baking soda and they get hay and browse.. The goats free range with ducks and chickens, so it's common for these mischievous little boys to get into the duck pens and chicken coops and eat layer pellets and duck food, as well as the scratch feed mentioned.. I do not know the mineral content of my well water. The goats also get goat mineral mixed into their feed every couple of days as well as a dose of probios a couple times per week. They have available to them free choice mineral and salt blocks, however, I do not know if they ever lick them. They get treats occasionally such as raisins, cheerios, watermelon, etc... I always offer leafy green veggies/herbs but they never accept it.

    The inflicted goat is 4mos old.. the other is 5 mos old... Can I take them off the medicated feed and feed them something else? The ducks also get into the goats barn and eat their food and it's not good for ducks to get medicated feed.

    What other feeds have ammonium chloride, if any? If I have to mix it in, how much do I use and how often, for prevention, and is it dangerous for ducks or chickens to ingest it?

    What brand of feed would be best for my goats if not the one I'm using now?

    I wonder also, is there such a thing as a multispecies feed? The goats, ducks and chickens all free range in the same area.. all the goat barn, chicken coops and duck pens are all open and they all eat each others food, except the chicks feed which is removed due to it being medicated..... Is it possible to feed all my animals the same feed and have them all getting their nutrition requirements? I thought about perhaps only feeding them in the evening when they're shut in for the night, but this makes me concerned about them not having exercise after eating, or them getting fat, etc and thought perhaps they need food available during the day when they're active.. I suppose I'm gonna have to do that.

    The other thing is my hay.. I do not know the nutritional value of it, nor the specifics.. One bale lasts quite awhile, so one I've had for bit has become brownish.. How long can hay be stored and how long does it remain safe for them to eat as long as it's dry and is not moldy.. I don't smell mold, so does this mean it's ok? This bale contains mixed plants and I see weeds, etc,...

    The bale I bought recently is bright and green, I gave them some of this before the urinary calculi and after, so, can this also be part of the problem? I bought it from a horse farm, but did not ask what kind it is, but perhaps alfafa or timothy is my guess... Horses get alfafa though, right? Could it be this hay that's the culprit here?

    Sorry for the ramble and assorted questions, but I'm in sad and desperate mood today hoping my little goat don't die and consequently believe I mismanaged and need to make changes.
  2. HoosierShadow

    HoosierShadow Senior Member

    Apr 19, 2010
    Central Kentucky
    I can't answer your questions, as I am new to goats and have much to learn. However, I just wanted to say I am so sorry your going through this, and I hope your little guys will be okay.

  3. myfainters

    myfainters New Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Lancaster, CA
    I do not leave out baking soda with bucks and wethers for this reason.... it throws off the PH ratio and can actually cause UC problems. I'd give him about 6-7000 mg of Vitamin C (crushed and in a drench form) the acid will break up any other stones so that they can pass through as well. I also throw Vitamin C as a top dress on my bucks and wethers feed every 2 weeks... I don't use ammonium chloride but I've heard tht it works well. I just prefer the C because it doesn't have any ill effects.
  4. myfainters

    myfainters New Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Lancaster, CA
    Oh... all of my chickens are free range... we don't feed them chicken feed at all.... they eat the goats hay pellets, the loose minerals, their calf manna and the complete horse pellets that I feed!!!! Then they go through the hay and eat the bugs and oats!!! I probably spend more on those darned chickens then I do the goats!!!!!! LOL However.... they sure are SHINY and those eggs have yolks that are BRIGHT orange and absolutely delicious!
  5. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    Oct 8, 2009
    Urinary calculi is usually 'struvite' or 'MAP' stones -- magnesium ammonium phosphate. Goat feed is formulatd to contain at least twice the calcium as it has phosphorus, to keep the goat's blood calcium levels elevated. When the calcium levels are elevated, the intestines won't absorb much 'extra' phosphorus from the diet, so it gets passed out with poop instead of becoming a circulating blood phosphate that has to be filtered by the kidneys and passed out through urine.

    What happens when you start mixing feeds or allow them to get into inappropriate feeds like cracked corn is that you're adding phosphorus to the mix and very little calcium, which dilutes the overall calcium intake, which in turn allows the goat's body to absorb more phosphorus, which in turn can lead to urinary calculi.

    Ammonium chloride helps keep the urinary tract at a lower pH (higher acidity) to help prevent the formation of MAP crystals...but it can only do so much when they're taking in too much phosphorus.

    As for prevention...keep your boys OUT of the chicken feed and scratch and stop mixing your own feeds. Also, consider using bagged feed as a supplement and use it only when their body condition score warrants supplementation. Most people overfeed to begin with, and overfeeding grain can lead to BIG problems.

    Now...treatment. This boy needs to be drenched with water-soluble ammonium chloride at a rate of about 300mg/kg of bodyweight, 2x/day for at least a week. Ammonia poisoning is a very real threat here also, but since ammonium chloride drenching is more or less a desperation effort, it's worth doing. Usually, if we've cut off the phosphorus and added the AC drenches, the actual struvite itself dissipates fairly quickly.

    The inflammation, however, does NOT.. Make absolutely sure you're taking that into account.

    Right after he gets his first drench of ammonium chloride, give him a shot of acepromazine. I've personally witnessed a goat that was barely dribbling make a near-normal stream after a shot of Ace.. His urinary sphincter is probably spasming right now from the irritation of having a full bladder and the fact that he's passing what amounts to sand.. Acepromazine is a muscle relaxer...it will help the urinary sphincter relax, which may allow him to pass more urine.

    The next thing that needs to happen RIGHT NOW is that he gets a dose of banamine. That will help him with pain, and also bring down some of the inflammation that's probably working to block his urethra. As I mentioned, he's passing sand...that's irritating to the whole works, and with irritation comes inflammation. It doesn't take much inflammation to block him up completely even in the absence of any actual calculi, which is why the struvite itself is maybe half the battle in cases of urinary calculi.

    Next, start a round of dexamethasone. The inflammation that banamine didn't help should go down and stay down once he's on dexamethasone.. Dex is an immune system killer, so it should effectively halt all the pro-inflammatory cytokines his body's sent screaming toward his urinary tract.

    While he's on dex, he needs to be on an antibiotic. Like I said, dex is an immune system killer -- accompanying it with an antibiotic is a must. Moreover, since UTIs can actually cause urinary calculi by raising the pH of the urine, he needs to be on a UTI-targetting antibiotic anyway just in case that's part of the problem.

    So, to recap:

    Soluble ammonium chloride drench NOW, plus another 300mg/kg drench 2x/day for a week.
    Acepromazine NOW.
    Banamine NOW.
    Dexamethasone NOW, plus 1ml/20lbs IM 1x/day...he needs the full dose of dex for at least 3 tp 5 days IMHO, and your vet will probably want to 'wean' him down off of it after that.
    Antibiotics NOW. I'd probably go with good ol' PenG here, since he's gonna be on dex for a good while anyway and PenG works better when given for an extended dosage period. Dosage is 1ml/15lbs 2x/day for 7-10 days through an 18ga needle (20ga if you wuss out).

    My vet and I were able to save one *everybody* called a goner using all of the above at one point or another.. We didn't really have anything planned or outlined as in the above, though...we just sorta 'wung it' and did what made sense as we thought it up. Some things should have been done sooner...some things shouldn't have been done at all (catheterization -- DO NOT let your vet catheterize your goat!!!!).. He made it, though. After it was all said and done, I spoke with the vet a bit about the protocol I outlined and I think they're gonna make it their standard treatment..

    Good luck. Keep us posted.
  6. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Not to disagree here but there's nothing wrong with mixing your own feed, its whats in the feed that matters. We feed a mix of just oats, barley, and a little BOSS and feed it to all of our goats(milking does, dry does, kids, wethers and bucks) and we have never had a problem with UC and our goats do great on it. We don't supplement with ammonium chloride either. I believe its too much corn in the the diet that causes UC in the first place. Just my two cents.

    What myfainters said should work well(also Jess that is a good idea putting it on their feed, its an immune booster too) You can also drench him with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to get more acidity into his system to break that stone up.
  7. CrockettsLastStand

    CrockettsLastStand New Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Epping, NH
    Shortly after posting here, I called the vet to find out how things were going and to find out if cutting off the tip of his penis worked, but was informed that he died while being anesthetized.

    We're all sad here at home as we love him so much and are now concerned with our second goat becoming depressed over the loss.

    The one we lost we called Davey Crockett.. He's the black and white one. We're gonna miss him :(

  8. Mon Reve Farm

    Mon Reve Farm New Member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Southern DE
    So sorry to hear about your loss... hugs

    Mon Reve Farm - Lower Slower Delaware
  9. bheila

    bheila New Member

    Jan 9, 2009
    Kent, Wa
    Awww, I'm so sorry to hear that you lost him. I too dealt with UC this year but decided to euthanize him. He was in so much pain that I thought that was the best thing I could do for him.
  10. myfainters

    myfainters New Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Lancaster, CA
    Oh I'm sooooooooo sorry to hear that. :tears: At least he isn't in pain anymore. :(
  11. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    Oct 8, 2009
    I'm really sorry to hear he didn't make it. I'm not sure why the vet was anesthetizing to snip his pizzle, but it's not uncommon for a goat to go down while being put under -- especially if it's been put on gas.

    Really, really sorry. :(

    Not to start a fight, but this is fairly dangerous advice.. Pretty much all the research into this problem disagrees with you on this one.

    It's not just corn that causes UC, though corn can be a real problem. The reason corn can be such a problem is simply because corn is EXTREMELY high in phosphorus. Again, urinary calculi is struvite or MAP stones -- magnesium ammonium phosphate.

    Oats and barley are also about 1:7 Ca:p, and BOSS is about 1:6...right in range with corn. If you haven't had a problem feeding it yet, then I'd wager that you're either accompanying it with alfalfa hay and/or you're not feeding very much of the grain mix.

    If you're not feeding alfalfa and you're offering significant amounts of your grain mix to bucks and wethers, then the fact that you've not had a problem yet really only means you've been extremely lucky thus far. In my opinion, anyway..

    Actually, there's not "that stone" to urinary calculi, and they don't "break up." If you've ever seen it -- which I have, first hand -- you'd know it's sandy or crystalline in nature. It's magnesium, ammonia, and phosphorus that have precipitated as a result reaching a point of saturation in urine that's too high in pH..

    As for vitamin c, it might work to dissolve the MAP crystals by acidifying the urine...or it might not. Who knows? As for Acv, I *know* that's not going to work considering a goat's rumen is FULL of acetic acid -- the very same acid that's in apple cider vinegar. Adding a few milliliters of ACV to a goat's rumen is like throwing a match on a bonfire.. Like I said, though, vitamin C might do a little better, but I'm not sure.. I'm not sure if anybody knows the answer to that, as I doubt it's been studied very much.

    What we DO know is that ammonium chloride *does* acidify a goat's urine, as it's been scientifically proven to do just that.. And when you're actually dealing with a case of urinary calculi, you don't have time to see if something's going to work or not -- you gotta use what's proven to work.
  12. logansmommy7

    logansmommy7 New Member

    Nov 11, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Sorry about your boy! That is SOOO sad...I know how much I LOVE my wethers!

    On the UC topic-I don't feed my wethers any grain! I know that sounds harsh-but I truly fear the UC stuff...They get hay and they get to graze...maybe the occasional handful of grain but I was getting ready to put out a baking soda feeder and now I won't!
  13. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    Oct 8, 2009
    If your wethers are growing appropriately and have adequate body condition, you're not being "harsh" by not feeding any grain...you're letting nature do its thing. Goats are the oldest domesticated livestock.. I did the math once, and if you condensed the amount of time man's been raising goats into 24 hours, we've been using bagged feed for about the last 10 minutes..

    They'll live. :)
  14. myfainters

    myfainters New Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Lancaster, CA
    I had a buck that was only able to urinate a slight dribble... he had dried blood all over and he was screaming in pain.... I gave him 7000 MG vitamin C (he weighed about 60 lbs) and put a call into the vet... vet couldn't get out there until the next morning so all I could do for him at that point was wait (and cry!) Went out the next morning expecting to find him dead.... he was out running around and playing like nothing was ever wrong..... He was also urinating EVERYWHERE...... so maybe it was a miracle or maybe it was the vitamin C????? Don't know but it worked for him. He is a great breeder and a sweet little buck.... he stayed on the exact same feed (minus baking soda free choice which I removed from the pen) and has his feed top dressed with vitamin C every other week and it's been over 2 years without ANY other issues. Sooooooo although not scientific.... it's working over here. :)
  15. sweetgoats

    sweetgoats Moderator

    Oct 18, 2007
    Peyton CO.
    I am really sorry for your loss. It is so hard, and when they are as cute as a button it is even harder. :hug: :(

    I would look for a friend for the other wether. They do need a buddy.

    I just want to say that I too mix my own grain and I have for 9 years. I have champion Cashmere goats and Fiber.
  16. liz

    liz Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    I am so sorry you lost little Davey. :hug: I hope you can find a buddy for your other soon, he'll miss him as much as you do.

    UC is an awful thing to have one of our boys go through... why it happens to some and not others can lead to many "answers" as well as questions.

    Some preventatives/treatments work for some and there are alot of opinions and research as to "why".

    I will say this though, I've had 2 bucks and 1 wether on the same 18% goat feed that my does get..they get 1 cup each once a day and have for their entire lives..6,3 and 2 yrs. I do have a mineral ewith added AC available to them freechoice and they get the same hay as the girls do, I have not had any issues thus far with UC.
  17. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    I'm so sorry you lost him, you did all you could :hug: :hug: :hug: :(

    We feed our bucks and wethers grass hay pretty much all year long, they get alfalfa treats every once in a while but not very often because I don't want the bucks to get too fat. Our wethers are fed grain up until one year of age, usually about cup twice a day until 5 or 6 months of age, then 2 cups per wether from then until a year(we trough feed the wethers, so they get more or less not an exact amount) Bucks are fed 2 lbs of grain a day during breeding season(Aug-Feb) to keep condition up while they are in rut.

    Although I am not a nutritionist, I know what works for my animals and what doesn't. When we first bought goats, we experiemented a lot] with different feeding methods. Before we had milking animals, we had our starter herd of boer goats who were extremely sick because the breeder lied to us when he sold us the animals. We had 10 does who we wanted to be bred and a buck. We were mixing a 16% mix(which was formulated by a nutritionist specifically for goats) consisting of roasted soybeans, corn and barley, and they were being fed this every day, twice a day for about 8 months. During those eight months, the only goat who could have a problem with UC(the buck) never had a problem but he also never ate the grain as much as the girls did. The girls had chronic respiratory problems, and when breeding season came around, they had a hard time settling, and a few had abortions when they did settle. We found out from later research that this was due to the high soy content of the feed.

    Somewhere in between there, we bought our first milking doe, and fed her what her breeders fed her, which was a bagged pelleted concentrate formulated specifically for milking does. She could not keep weight on, she literally smelled horribly, and her milk tasted horrible. It was because of her that we started experimenting with different grain mixes. We read books, talked to breeders etc; we tried many different things before we finally settled on the mix we feed now which we have been feeding for over 4 years with no problems. After figuring the right mix out, we fed it to the boers, and their respiratory problems went away and so did the breeding problems. With the milkers(we had added a few more a few months later) they kept weight good even after kidding, they milked well and most importantly they didn't stink and their milk tasted wonderful, no bad taste at all.

    I know I'm getting off the UC topic here, but the point I'm trying to make is that I don't pay attention to research that has been conducted about nutrition for animals, mostly because research has been funded by feed companies who want people to buy their product. I have had great success with this ration and I've given this ration to several other people who have used it and have had great success with it. And as for my recommendations on UC treatment, I haven't dealt with it myself, but anytime I search around forums and see somebody who has used a non-prescription treatment that works, I usually file it in my head to recommend to somebody later.

    Thats my two cents, to each his own. :wink:
  18. logansmommy7

    logansmommy7 New Member

    Nov 11, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    I think you might be right. My boys are healthy-so far...knock on wood and hope for the best!!! :pray:
  19. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    Oct 8, 2009
    The science behind the idea of keeping blood calcium levels elevated is good science, and much of it has been developed by ag research universities... It's not someting that the feed companies came up with, as it actually makes their products harder to produce. If the feed companies were to have been the ones to come up with the numbers, they would probably have just figured out a way to make it look like phosphorus was a-OK for goats, considering grains have so much phosphorus in them.

    I spoke with a vet about this very subject...a very knowledgable vet. To that point, I'd not been able to figure out exactly what it was that calcium did to keep phosphorus in check; some things you read state that calcium helps the body USE phosphorus, while others stated that calcium helped the body AVOID phosphorus... What she explained was that if blood calcium levels remained elevated, the body wouldn't absorb so much phosphorus through the intestines.. Pretty much, if blood calcium levels are low, blood phosphates will be high, and if blood calcium is high, blood phosphates will be low.

    Given that the vast majority of cases of urinary calculi are caused by a saturation of magnesium, ammonia, and phosphorus in the urine, it only makes sense that keeping blood phosphates low would be important...which is why feeds contain twice (to 2.5x) the calcium as they do phosphorus..

    Incidentally, the vet also mentioned that if blood phosphates AND blood calcium are high, there's usually a metabolic problem.. Oftentimes, that metabolic disturbance is caused by poisoning with something called 'cholecalciferol' -- aka Vit. D3. Available in your local supermarket's vitamin aisle, or in the pest control section! :laugh:

    Anyway...point being, the science is good. :)
  20. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    I don't mean to say the science is bad(even though I did, lol) what I mean is that I used two different feeding rations, one of which was made up by a nutritionist, and the other was a total ration pelleted feed, and neither feed worked for my goats. It wasn't until I figured it out on my own that I was able to have success.