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Avoiding Urinary Calculi in your flock...

Urinary Calculi refers to the formation of stones in the urinary tract, and it can be a concern in entire male animals, especially male lambs. These stones occur when insoluble salts are deposited into the urinary tract.

These calculi can ultimately lead to death from kidney failure (uraemia), or from toxins entering the blood stream (septicaemia). This condition can account for up to 35% of all fattening lamb deaths, with male lambs making up the largest proportion. Removal of the calculi is an expensive veterinary procedure, and not always successful, and so prevention is better than cure through both dietary and livestock management.

Adequate Water

Drinking an adequate amount of fresh, clean water is the single most important factor in the prevention of calculi. This dilutes the urine and prevents it becoming saturated with the minerals, reducing their deposition. Maintaining water temperature at around 10°C, can help maximise water intakes, especially when ambient temperatures are very low, whilst adding something like a tennis ball to a water trough can encourage inquisitive lambs to go to the trough and drink.

Accessible Water

Having enough water trough space, at the right temperature is important, but so is ensuring that lambs have easy access to that trough. Freezing temperatures or troughs that are too high will restrict water intakes, so make sure the water is easy enough for stock to get to. Fresh, clean, running water is always going to ensure better water intakes.


Offering lambs, a supplementary supply of salt, or salt licks, encourages them to drink more water. Making sure the salt is accessible by all the animals is crucial.


Making sure lambs have access to enough functional fibre helps them to ruminate and produce saliva. Good quality straw, hay, or haylage, separate from the bedding, can help to achieve this. This will be especially important if lambs are drinking more, and bedding is wetter.


Diet is very rarely a factor that triggers problems with Urinary Calculi, but certain factors can be considered to help prevent them forming. Mineral balance is important so ensure you discuss with your nutritionist.

Ammonium Chloride should also be added to concentrate diets. This acidifies the urine and helps to prevent the formation of the stones, if there is enough water intake.

Our top 5 tips…

  • Make sure water is clean, fresh, and accessible.

  • Consider slightly warming the water and adding a ball to the trough to encourage drinking.

  • Provide salt licks to make lambs thirstier.

  • Provide a source of roughage, such as straw, as well as providing enough bedding.

  • Ensure that the mineral balance of concentrate feed is appropriate, including the addition of Ammonium Chloride.

Dugdale Nutrition have a range of products for fattening lambs and for feeding to tups that contain the correct mineral balance and appropriate level of ammonium chloride to help to reduce the risk of Urinary Calculi.

Speak to your DN Sales Specialist for more information or call 01200 420200.

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