“The fact that I gave her food that was supposed to nourish her, but it killed her — just kills me,” says Julie Hodgson.
Hodgson’s horse Gracie, a 7-year-old Missouri Fox Trotter, was one of three horses that died suddenly last month at a South Carolina boarding stable. It is believed the horses’ feed was allegedly tainted with monensin.
“It is a huge loss. She was my everything,” sobbed Hodgson, one of three owners grieving after the senseless deaths.
Now, the fourth horse from Camelot Farms Equestrian Center near Beaufort is struggling to survive. The stable houses more than 40 horses.
The farm’s owner, Anne Kennedy, says the horses ate ADM Alliance Nutrition 12% pellets. The stable sent a feed sample to the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health at Michigan State University. Kennedy says the test came back as having “monensin present.”
Horses are highly sensitive to monensin toxicity, which is dose and individual dependent. Symptoms may include colic, sweating, muscle wasting, bloating, kidney failure, damage to the heart, respiratory distress, and the inability to stand.
Monensin, an ionophore, is a feed additive for cattle to improve weight gain and to control internal parasites. It can end up in horse feed if produced in the same mill as cattle feed when the milling process is not managed properly.
Despite a complaint of possible monensin contamination, ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. has not issued a recall of any lots.
Rate My Horse PRO first contacted ADM Alliance Nutrition on December 26th requesting information regarding any complaints received. Company spokesperson Jackie Anderson told Rate My Horse PRO on December 31st, “At ADM Alliance Nutrition, we are committed to providing safe and nutritious feed and feed ingredients. We are working directly with the customer and authorities to investigate these allegations. We have not received any other reports or complaints about monensin in our horse feed.”
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture took feed samples from the farm on Thursday as a part of its investigation, according to farm owner Kennedy.
A similar investigation is on-going in Florida. Six horses have died since October at Masterpiece Equestrian in Davie after eating tainted feed manufactured by Lakeland Animal Nutrition, an Alltech company. Sixteen horses that also ate the feed continue to suffer the ill effects.
A confidential settlement was reached between the company and the majority of the horses’ owners in late December. It is still unknown how the feed was contaminated or if the company will face sanctions by the Florida Department of Agriculture until the agency’s investigation is complete.