Private Settlement Terms
A settlement has been reached between a group of horse owners and an equine feed company after contaminated equine feed killed six horses and sickened more than a dozen others, according to the attorney representing the Florida horse owners.
Attorney Andrew Yaffa tells Rate My Horse PRO the settlement terms between Lakeland Animal Nutrition, an Alltech company, and his clients are confidential. “Lakeland Animal Nutrition has voluntarily resolved the matter… they have acted honorably throughout the resolution process…” Two of the deceased horses died Friday, a day after the agreement was reached.
Yaffa represents Masterpiece Equestrian, located in Davie, and the majority of private horse owners that board and train at the hunter/jumper stable. Yaffa said he previously gave the feed company a December 24th deadline or he would bring a lawsuit.
A statement from Lakeland Animal Nutrition says, “we have been devastated by the tragic losses at Masterpiece Equestrian… and we vowed to bring restoration to them. We have honored that vow … that will allow them to properly care for their horses and purchase new horses. Although their beloved animals could never be replaced, it is our hope that this settlement will bring them some peace and allow them to continue pursuing their passion for equestrian care and sport.”
The stable’s nightmare began in October after a horse started showing colic-like symptoms and died. Two more horses died that month. A fourth horse died in December. Necropsies pointed to monensin toxicity.
Monensin is added to cattle feed to enhance weight gain, but is deadly to horses. It can end up in horse feed if manufactured at the same mill if the milling process is not managed properly.
Lakeland Animal Nutrition issued a voluntary feed recall in late October. The 95-year-old company, purchased by Alltech in 2012, announced it will no longer produce equine feed. The company will continue manufacturing beef, dairy, poultry, and swine feed.
An investigation by the Florida Department of Agriculture is underway. Lab results found of nine equine feed samples collected by the state, one was positive for monensin and lasalocid. Like monensin, lasalocid is used in cattle feed to promote growth and it is toxic to horses. Four additional samples tested positive for monensin. It is unknown if the company will face sanctions.
A total of 16 horses remain alive, but in tenuous health. Two of those horses are owned by Debra Buis. Her teenage daughters are competitive equestrians. Buis says she fears the coming months will only get more difficult. “We are devastated, but doing the best we can. The settlement enables us to provide limited care and ultimately buy new horses, but we cannot replace what has been lost.”