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Urinary Calculi

Stress Related
by Wythe Quarles

    I keep reading of goat owners having calculi problems or expressing concern about this subject. So I thought it appropriate that my first post to the group be on this subject since I am currently helping an owner in GA work through a problem with a young buck that he  received via air about 2 weeks ago. The problem started for his buck about 10 days after receipt.

     My only personal experience with this problem in 15 years of raising Toggs occurred in the fall of 1989, 10 days after having a buck flown in from NH.

     My nutritionist and I agree that these occurrences are quite different from true calculi, though the results are quite often the same unless your vet knows what to do.

      The above events were simply stress related. Six to fourteen hours in transit will cause stress. Stress produces cortisol, which causes the breakdown of body tissues - there is a change in blood pH. Cortisol causes the precipitation and transport of metals in the blood.  Added to this is restricted water intake. These free flowing calculi are due to pH changes and show up as "grit", that has precipitated in the urine. This event is akin to an experiment in a chemistry lab where a second type of solution is added to a saturated solution and visible precipitation drops to the bottom of the beaker.

      This type of calculi is event driven i.e. the stress of transport, an injury or infection that alters the blood pH of the animal.

      The other type of calculi is diet related and concerns epithelial tissue. This is the tissue which lines the tubes and cavities of the body (has one or more layers of cells) that aid in the excretion of waste products and the assimilation of nutrients. A diet deficient in vitamin A causes nidus to develop where calculi can form in the epithelial tissue. This process is akin to a polyp developing in the colon and is not unlike the process that leads to a heart attack. Healthy epithelial tissue requires adequate vitamin A in the diet. The change in the proteins of pelleted rations can also contribute to this problem. The heat generated in the pelleting process causes the proteins to become sticky and adhere to certain areas. This is especially true of soy. Lack of adequate vitamin A in a buck's diet is a much bigger  contributing factor. Minerals must be balanced in the ration and of high bioavailibility. The same is true of the mineral mix.

       I hope that these comments have began to explain how these problems are similar yet different and how the outcome for one, if  properly treated, can be different from the other.

       We are working on the formulation of a product that will assist in the prevention of the release of this stress-related grit, especially in transport.

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