Urinary Calculi

Urinary calculi, or “stones” are a frequent issue in castrated male goats and sheep being fed a diet with grain.  The mineral composition of drinking water combined with dietary mineral imbalances contribute to urinary calculi formation.

Signs of urinary calculi:

  • The animals may posture as if they are attempting to urinate, twitch the tail, or vocalize in pain with little to no urine stream visible.
  • Urine may dry on the hair on the prepuce and leave behind a mineral deposit.
  • Pain to palpation of the penis.
  • Animals typically refuse feed.
  • Some animals may just lay down and refuse to stand.

Prevention is key and is much more effective than treatment.

  • Delay castration until 4-5 months of age, remember that some males may be fertile as early as 3 months and need to be separated from females.
  • Ensure frequent access to clean water.
  • Feed a diet that is has a calcium:phosphorus ratio of 2:1.
  • Top dress feed with salt to promote water consumption.
  • Ammonium chloride may be fed on the ration (feed for 3 days, skip 4 days, repeat).  Ammonium chloride acidifies the urine and prevents stone formation, but it will become ineffective if fed daily.  It must be fed intermittently.
  • We recommend feeding a mineral labeled for goats, access to grass hay, pasture, or browse.  Instead of feeding grain to pet castrated male goats, we recommend using timothy hay pellets.


The veterinarian will extrude the animal’s penis to visualize the urethral process at the end of the penis.  This anatomic structure is narrow and can easily be removed without affecting fertility or with long term consequences.  If urine flow cannot be re-established, surgery will likely be necessary to empty the bladder, remove stones, and place a temporary tube within the bladder.  Anti-inflammatory medication and a urinary acidifier such as ammonium chloride will be used in the days after surgery.

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