“We’re in crisis mode and they’re [ADM] not even acknowledging it,” says Alabama three day event rider Andrew Palmer. He is the third farm owner with lab results showing his horses’ equine feed from ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. contains monensin.
The Royal Palm Farm owner says he submitted three feed samples to Thompson-Bishop-Sparks State Diagnostic Laboratory,” after reading Rate My Horse PRO’s article about the recent ADM test results in Georgia.” While Palmer heard about the horses’ deaths in South Carolina, he says he did not act because he was led to believe it wasn’t necessary. When he asked his feed store about the allegations, he says he was given the impression the farm owners were being investigated for insurance fraud, a claim that is false.
Palmer’s veterinarian advised him to pull his approximately forty horses off the feed and send it in for testing. The lab tested two lots of ADM Patriot Performance 12-10 and ADM Patriot Junior that he had purchased last week. The lab results show Patriot Performance lot GA36414 contains .094 g/ton of monensin; lot GA35714 has 1.2 g/ton monensin, and Patriot Junior lot GA34514 contains .43 g/ton. Palmer is waiting for results from additional samples.
According to lab results, ADM Patriot Performance, ADM Patriot Junior, and ADM Alliance Nutrition 12% have tested positive for monensin. The test results come from three farms in three different states – South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. The feed was produced at a mill in Cordele, Georgia.
Palmer called ADM to report that his feed contained monensin. “I spoke with Jason Hartley and he told me at this time, contrary to what’s being reported, they haven’t identified any manufacturing issues with their products. He also said there haven’t been any harmful levels of monensin detected in their feed.” Hartley is responsible for quality assurance at ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc.
An FDA spokesperson recently told Rate My Horse PRO, “there is no acceptable amount of monensin allowed in equine feed – it is not approved.” We contacted the FDA on Friday, and while we did receive a response, the agency was unable to answer our specific questions by the end of the day. We are expecting a response next week regarding the department’s investigation into ADM.
Palmer filed his complaint with the FDA regarding ADM’s allegedly tainted horse products.
Monensin is an ionophore. It is used to improve feed efficiency in cattle and can be found in premix formulas. Cross-contamination in the milling process during the formulation of equine feed, due to human error, is one-way horses can become exposed.
Monensin is highly poisonous to horses and affects the heart and skeletal muscles. The level of toxicity is dose and individual dependent. Symptoms of monensin poisoning may include colic, sweating, muscle wasting, bloating, kidney failure, damage to the heart, respiratory distress, stiffness, and the inability to stand.
The first four horses on Palmer’s farm were transitioned to ADM feed in July 2014 after he was approached by a representative. By October, all of the farm’s horses were eating ADM feed. In the past three months, Palmer says four of their horses have had acute colic episodes. While colic happens on every farm, he calls the number “unusually high.” One of the horses had to be hospitalized but did recover. It is unknown if there is a connection.
“We have a lot of horses at risk.” Royal Palm Farm stands nine actively competing stallions. The farm also specializes in breeding sports horses. “There is very little research of the long term effect monensin will have on horses at sub-lethal levels so we are entering fairly new territory as we begin testing and observation,” Palmer says. “As we find brief relief in the strength of our horses, it is now our hopes and dreams that hang in the balance.”
Blood samples from a group of horses that were initially put on the feed are currently being tested to obtain a baseline cardiac troponin level. The fourteen horses’ blood results returned within normal levels late Friday, according to Palmer. Additional tests will be run in another week.
We asked ADM to comment on why the company has not taken action, now that there are allegations of contaminated feed tied to three different ADM equine feeds from the same mill. ADM spokesperson Jackie Anderson told us, “if we had any reason to believe our feeds were unsafe, we would take prompt action. There is no credible evidence indicating that our horse feed contributed in any way to any illnesses or deaths.”
“The action of ADM Alliance Nutrition and their acknowledgment of this problem is past due,” says Palmer. “It is no longer a question of if horses are affected, but how.”
If you have had your ADM feed tested, contact us with the test results. Stay with Rate My Horse PRO as we continue to bring you the latest on this developing story.