by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy
I thought I might start on this subject early in hopes of averting problems. The most discouraging phone calls I get are rams or show wethers that are showing symptoms of urinary calculi. At that point, the chance of success is limited. Occasionally a person can get lucky and clip the feeler on the end of the penis and that will contain the sand or stone but usually the only fix is to amputate the penis and pull it out the back and the usefulness of the animal has diminished to salvage value. Generally stones are located higher where the penis makes a bend. If the penis ruptures instead of the bladder and there is edema of under line and scrotum surgery can still be successful an the animals still salvaged for slaughter after a recovery period. Rams that recover after removing feeler or appendage are okay for breeding.
The stones are invariably the result of addition of Phosphorus to the ration. Other factors such as availability of salt, lack of calcium in the ration and a clean plentiful source of water contribute.
So how do we prevent it?
When lambs are self fed 30 pounds of limestone, 20 pounds of salt and five to ten pounds ammonium chloride per ton of feed. Access to a clean plentiful source of water, free choice loose salt and hay (preferably alfalfa). With this type of a ration seldom will you see a problem. I have seen it in young lambs that haven’t been weaned yet, rarely but I believe these are a result of an anatomical defect or a metabolic defect of some sort,
Avoid feeds and minerals containing added phosphorus. Dicalcium phosphate is often used and ratios are talked about, but at the end of the day, lamb rations are loaded with phosphorus and adding more and keeping the ratios correct isn’t the answer, thats what some nutritionists don’t understand.
Any procedure that encourages the consumption of water helps. The feeding of alfalfa hay not only encourages water consumption, but delivers additional calcium as well.
The ammonium chloride changes the PH of the urine which helps dissolve stones and prevent formation of more.
Reoccurring calls about urinary calculi led to the development of our selenium and iodine premixes that can be mixed with loose white salt that is basically all that is needed in most sheep rations.