I don't know if you guys remember Ulrich (our goat named Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein from the movie "A Knight's Tale"), but recently he has been eyeing the ladies and participating in what is known as rut. It is a series of behaviors that bucks/billies do as a result of an increase in hormones to woo the nannies. Behaviors include urinating on their faces and front legs, making a bunch of funny noises, sticking their tongues out, pawing, stomping, etc. It's quite hilarious to watch, but this year we encountered something new during the process. One night we noticed during feeding time that the backs of Ulrich's legs were pink and raw. At first we were very concerned and confused, but then we did some research to figure out what was going on. We discovered that he was suffering from something called urine scald. Think of it like a bad diaper rash. Due to the bucks repeatedly urinating all over their skin, the skin gets very irritated and breaks down. Sometimes if the urine stays on the skin long enough the hair can even fall out leaving a big pink, raw area.
This is what had happened to Ulrich (see the pictures above). After we did some research we decided to treat it conservatively with a barrier cream to prevent the urine from being in contact with the skin (much like the treatment for diaper rash when yeast isn't causing a secondary infection) and Iodine to help reduce the risk of a secondary infection in the area where the skin is broken down. First, we treated the area with Iodine and after it set for a few minutes we dried it and applied some vaseline to keep the urine off. We had vaseline sitting around, but you could also use the over the counter Desitin or any other brand or generic of a zinc oxide barrier cream. It is important to make sure there isn't already an infection brewing where the skin is broken down. Look for heat, redness, swelling, pus, a fever in the goat, etc. If these are present you may need some antibiotics or other treatment on board-see your local vet. Also make sure you check the area in the center/bottom of your buck's belly where the penis comes out. This area can also get very irritated. The hair in the area may need a trim to help prevent the urine from soaking the hair and then staying in contact with the skin.
We are currently treating Ulrich for this condition, but so far it is going well. We will keep you updated if there are any changes or other recommendations or tips!
Another thing to watch for in bucks or wethers (castrated males) is urinary calculi also known as kidney stones. It is almost always caused by improper feeding practices. When feeding bucks or wethers (supplementary feed, hay, or minerals), it is important to ensure it has the proper ratio of calcium to phosphorus, which should be 2.5 calcium to 1 phosphorus per Michigan State University. If the animals are overfed or given a feed or mineral that has too much phosphorus in relation to the calcium solid particles develop in the urinary system and block the passage of urine out of the body. This is very painful and can ultimately lead to death.
Wethers are especially susceptible to urinary calculi, because when the animal is castrated it stops both the production of testosterone and also the growth of the urethra (tube from which urine flows out of the body). When castrated the urethra doesn't grow to its normal diameter, making urinary flow an easy problem to have if there is large sediment in the urine. The longer castration is delayed, the longer the urethra has to grow to its normal diameter and this reduces the risk of urinary calculi in the animal.
Urinary calculi is an emergency. The animal needs immediate veterinary attention or it will ultimately die. Do not encourage drinking because if the bladder is full and urine is unable to leave the body the bladder can burst which is fatal. Symptoms of urinary calculi include: hunched back while the animal strains to urinate, tail twitching, restlessness, and anxiety. If these symptoms are identified and urinary calculi is suspected the animal should be immediately examined by a veterinarian.
Prevention of urinary calculi:
-Ensure the calcium to phosphorus ratio is correct: 2.5 calcium to 1 phosphorus. Check your labels on feed and minerals.
-Feed lots of forage/roughage/browse.
-Reduce the amounts of concentrates being fed. If feeding these read the label and ensure the calcium to phosphorus ratio is appropriate.
-Some supplements contain ammonium chloride and this may help reduce the incidence of urinary calculi, but it is no guarantee that it won't occur.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and strongly advise you discuss any potential diagnoses and treatment options with your veterinarian first. This article is for informational purposes only. Riebel Farms LLC and its authors will not be held liable for any use of the information provided.