Urinary Calculi in Growing Lambs

Several producers creep feed their lambs. It is during this period that the incidence of urinary calculi increases. Urinary calculi or "urolithiasis" affects young rams fed on rations with a high grain proportion. Tiny crystals form in the urine under certain dietary conditions. The crystals are carried along in the urine flow and block the urethra. Severe blockages cause the bladder to distend and possibly rupture. If rupture occurs, the ram lamb will probably die.

Calculi development is related to the intake of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Quick fixes include:

  1. Decrease the intake of phosphorus.
  2. Maintain the calcium to phosphorus ratio 2:1 or above.
  3. Ammonium chloride can be added to the creep feed to acidify urine. This prevents the precipitation of the minerals.
  4. Ensure clean, fresh water is always available.
  5. Increase salt intake (force feed) up to 4% of the total diet. This causes frequent urination and higher water intake.

Consider reviewing the entire ration with your nutritionist.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Brian Bell - Agriculture and Rural Representative/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 1 October 1997
Last Reviewed: 16 April 2010