Minerals are very important for the proper functioning of an animal's body. However, sometimes, the body is not able to process or absorb these minerals properly. One the consequences of such a malfunction is the formation of stones. When stones are formed in the urinary tract of a goat, the condition is known as urinary calculi. It becomes difficult for the goat to pass urine. Ammonium chloride helps in preventing and treating this condition.
Who's at Risk?
This condition commonly afflicts male goats. Although in rare cases, females may also get these stones. The reason for the high incidence of this condition in males is that male goats have long urethrae that are twisted and have many turns, whereas the urethrae of the females is short and straight. As a result, passing any solid particle is more difficult for males than for females. Among the males also, it is the wethers (castrated males) that are more prone to urinary calculi than the bucks (uncastrated males).
Nutrition plays an important role in causing urinary calculi. Goat feed needs to have a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio. This ratio should ideally be 2:½, and should never fall below 1:1. Increased level of phosphorus in the food is the culprit behind the formation of these stones in them. Many producers or owners of show goats feed their animals grain concentrates. Too much of grain concentrates or grain concentrates with high levels of phosphorus as compared to calcium results in the formation of these stones.
In case the goat is not being given grain concentrate but is fed on a forage diet, then the owner should get the hay and water tested for mineral levels. Some types of hay (like Bermuda grass) is high in phosphorus content. In case the hay has been fertilized using chicken litter, the amount of phosphorus will be higher. Adding limestone (calcium carbonate) can restore the calcium:phosphorus ratio to the optimum level. Rarely so, but the acidity level of the water that a goat drinks may also cause urinary calculi. Get the pH level of water checked, it should be neutral.
Of the various measures, vets advice owners to use ammonium chloride for their goats, as it prevents as well as treats urinary calculi. In fact, most producers use ammonium chloride for those goats (meat type goats) that are fed a high grain diet. The stones are formed when normal pH of the urine changes. This causes the minerals to crystallize and form stones in the bladder. It makes the urine pH acidic, and that prevents the formation of stones. The following table, as suggested by vets, will help you to decide the amount of ammonium chloride required in a goat's diet:
|Ammonium Chloride||Pounds per Ton of Feed||For Topdress Feed|
|0.50%||10 pounds||1/2 tsp (2.27 gram)|
|1.00%||20 pounds||1 tsp (4.54 gram)|
|1.50%||30 pounds||1½ tsp (6.81 gram)|
Other than including ammonium chloride in a goat's diet, the following steps can be taken to prevent urinary calculi:
- Ensure that the goat has a diet in which the calcium:phosphorus ratio is 2:1.
- Provide your goat access to clean water.
- Delay castration in lambs for as long as possible because no testosterone is produced after castration, and that does not allow the urethra to grow to its natural diameter.
- Addition of 3-4% salt to diet increases water intake. This is beneficial for the goat.
In case the flow of urine is completely blocked, the animal should be taken to the vet. A surgical procedure is the only way to provide relief in such a condition. However, in case there is partial blockage in expulsion of urine, then giving an oral drench treatment can help dissolve the stones. To make such a drench, the following table can be followed (The figures are for a mixture of 0.26 grams of ammonium chloride per kg of body weight).
|Weight of Goat||Amount of Ammonium Chloride per Gallon of Water|
|30 pounds||0.78 lbs|
|45 pounds||1.17 lbs|
|60 pounds||1.56 lbs|
The goat should be given 40 cc of the mixture made, based on this table. The toxicity of ammonium chloride should be kept in mind. However, keeping in mind the urgency of the urinary calculi, ammonium chloride might be the only option. However, it is strongly advisable that one consults the vet before resorting to such treatment.