Licorice is believed to have died after eating contaminated horse feed made by Tribute. Licorice the driving pony died allegedly after eating Tribute horse feed poisoned with ionophore, which is toxic to horses.

Horse Owners Sue Kalmbach over Contaminated Equine Feed

Tribute Equine Horse Feed Suit

An Ohio couple accuses the maker of Tribute Equine Nutrition of knowingly distributing ionophore contaminated horse feed in a recently filed lawsuit.

Camlyn lost her foal and then died from contaminated horse feed months later.
Rebecca Smith’s ladies cart horse, Camlyn. Her in-utero foal died and she died months later.

Plaintiffs Derek and Rebecca Smith, of Moreland Hills, are suing Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. and 10 “John Does” for negligence, fraud, and product liability.

Although Kalmbach represents that Tribute Equine Nutrition’s line of horse feed is manufactured in a “closed” equine mill that is ionophore free, the suit states the company’s claims are false, and horse owners are being misled.

An FDA investigation asserts Kalmbach manufactured a medicated feed immediately prior to Lot #71345 [Tribute Foal Foundation], a non-medicated horse feed, on March 20, 2015.

“At the end of the inspections, the FDA issued a Form 483 to the firm, stating that the firm’s practices do not appear to prevent drug carryover to non-medicated feed,” FDA spokesman Jason Strachman-Miller told Rate My Horse PRO.

Poisoned Horse Feed?

In July 2015, the Smiths’ horses became sick. Their daughter’s driving pony, Licorice, was the first to suddenly die. Four more horses began showing symptoms consistent with ionophore poisoning that week.

Symptoms of ionophore poisoning may include colic, sweating, muscle wasting, bloating, kidney failure, damage to the heart, respiratory distress, stiffness, and the inability to stand. Ionophores affect the horse’s heart and skeletal muscles.

The level of toxicity is dose and individual dependent and there is no antidote for horses once they have been poisoned.

The Smiths lost four horses, including champion Percherons. Their other horses remain in tenuous health.

Lab results state Tribute equine feed was contaminated.
Camlyn died in November 2015 from contaminated horse feed, according to the lawsuit.

Seeking answers, the Smiths went to their feed store, Chagrin Pet & Garden, in Chagrin Falls, and Kalmbach. The suit states both businesses assured them the Tribute horse feed wasn’t the issue.

The Smiths obtained their own feed testing. Lab tests found two ionophores – monensin and lasalocid – in Tribute Essential K and Tribute Foal Foundation, court documents state.

The two types of Tribute feed, made by Kalmbach, allegedly tainted with ionophores.
The two types of Tribute feed, made by Kalmbach, allegedly tainted with ionophores.

Monensin and lasalocid are both deadly to horses. The “medicated feeds” are fed to cattle to promote efficient growth. The products are sold under the brand names Rumensin and Bovatec, respectively.

“We are confident, 100% their claims are false and this lawsuit is without merit,” says Bonnie Brannigan, Kalmbach Feeds Vice President of Retail Marketing in response.

Brannigan said she couldn’t comment on the FDA’s findings during its investigation due to the pending litigation. She added she is confident the outcome will be in the company’s favor.

Stay with us as we continue following this and other pending contaminated horse feed lawsuits.


View Lawsuit 

Kalmbach / Tribute Equine Nutrition Lawsuit

Kalmbach / Tribute Equine Nutrition never answered this suit, but apparently settled the case, according to court records. 

The Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the suit against Kalmbach, with prejudice, on October 14, 2016.



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