Most people think that avoiding urinary calculi in male goats is as easy as balancing the calcium and phosphorus ratio, but that’s only the beginning.

We are talking to Dr. Robert VanSaun, professor of veterinary science and extension veterinarian at Penn State University, about all of the different types of urinary stones, what causes them, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.

You need to be a member of Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats to add comments!

Join Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

Email me when people reply –


  • Hi there Ann!

    Deborah is away until tonight sometime, so I thought I would pop in here since it seems you are worried =)

    Somewhere along the line, the rumor began that anyone feeding "grass" hay should feed alfalfa hay to "balance" it. To date, I have never seen any research or scientific data to support that. In fact, if you look up general hay analysis, grass hays are typically well balanced at close to 2:1 (0.4/0.2) ratios while alfalfa comes in at about (1.4-0.2). 

    To ease your mind, I have attached here a nutritional sheet on these 2 pellets, which also states that they are both well balanced =) https://www.standleeforage.com/files/nutritional-papers/1701_Orchar...

    On the sunflower seeds- they are a bit high in phosphorous, and really do not add anything nutritionally that the boys need ( I use them to increase butterfat content in my girls' milk) At a teaspoon a day I would not worry, and just go ahead and remove them from their diet. 

    Another thing to remember, is that Calcium/Phos ratio alone is not what causes urinary stones. It is an accumulation of several factors that come together to basically create a perfect storm in the form of urinary calculi. Of course we want to do everything possible to keep this ratio balanced and in check, but well hydrated goats that are eating a varied diet between pasture, browse, pellets, hay, etc are much less at risk than those being fed a high concentration grain and or alfalfa diet. 

    I hope this info helps!


    • I also forgot to mention that Orchard grass is higher in protein than Timothy, which wethers really don't need unless they are perhaps under stress from a high worm burden, so if you have a choice, I would go back to the Timothy =)


      • Thanks for answering Tammy!  I think nervousness is like a germ sometimes, in the way it can pass from one person to another.  In this case, to me! 

        I'll just go back to Timothy and stop worrying, as I seem to be following all the other good practices.

        Thanks again :)



  • Also, she said that timothy was a "balanced" feed source, as in having calcium and phosphorus, as opposed to orchardgrass that was high in phosphorus alone.  Cany you speak to that? I'm trying to do my own research as well.

  • Hi Debra,

       Having just listened to this podcast and coincidently, talking today to a woman who trims goat's hooves for a living, I have a couple of questions about feeding wethers. They are now a year and a half old. I was feeding timothy pellets and a grass hay (I don't know which grass) and they have Purina goat minerals and fresh water at all times. Now they are on orchardgrass pellets because a few months ago, Tractor Supply didn't have the timothy.  Sometimes I fed the Alfalfa/Timothy pellets because that was all they had and then I was worrying about whether that was too much alfalfa for them. I am also giving them about a tablespoon each of sunflower seed without the hull for treats.

    Today, the hoof trimmer, told me the sunflower seeds were high in phosphorus and that the orchardgrass was high in phosphorus and she thought I should be using straight alfalfa pellets or at least alfalfa/timothy because of the need to have more calcium in their diet to meet the needed ratio. I admit that I hadn't been thinking about that ratio at all.

    In the podcast the guest didn't discuss the differences in the mineral contents of the various grass hays so I'm wondering if that is an important thing to know. Also, should I be adding alfalfa pellets and if so, how do I know when it is the right amount and when it is too much? I thought I had this figured out months ago, but now I'm not at all sure that I do and now I'm worrying again that I'm not feeding properly after all.

    Thank you!

    • Hi again, Deborah,

         I have been reading since last night and find that the orchardgrass pellets have a lesser Ca to P ratio than the timothy pellets, which are around 2:1 and that the sunflower seeds aren't a good idea at all, being that they are way higher in P.

      So, now my question is, though I don't see evidence of stones yet in the wethers, should I be adding some ammoium chloride to dissolve whatever has already precipitated in their bladders and if so, do I do that through a goat feed that has the Ammonium chloride in it for a little while?


      Thank you. This is going to worry me until I know they are ok.


This reply was deleted.