“There is no future for these horses. It is just how and when they will die,” says Debra Buis, the mother of two horse crazy teenagers fighting a valiant, but losing battle. “It is a nightmare.”
Buis says 19 horses, including their two, are suffering from monensin toxicity after being fed Lakeland Animal Nutrition’s horse feed. The horses are exhibiting symptoms including sweating in flanks, bloody nostrils, extreme weight loss, and renal failure. Half of the horses, she says, have tested positive for troponin, an enzyme that shows there has been cardiac damage. “There is nothing we can do for them. I can’t describe what this is like.”
Three horses died last month at Masterpiece Equestrian Center, where the ailing horses reside in south Florida. The boarding and training stable, owned by Rick and Millie Pryce, has been in business for about 30-years but could go broke almost overnight. The hunter/jumper business normally bustles with children taking lessons from one of three trainers, but without horses to ride, the business has stopped and the show season has been canceled.
“We feel like the feed company came to the farm on October 9th, when we opened the feed bags and killed our horses — some fast and some slowly,” Buis says.
The first horse began showing colic-like symptoms and died on October 15th. Two days later, a boarder’s pony experienced paralysis. The 12-year-old held her gelding in her lap before he was euthanized. Buis says the girl is helping the other children with their sick horses although she is devastated. “She walks around crying.”
The pony’s necropsy states “the presence of a high level of monensin within the pelleted feed and trace amounts within gastric contents and heart tissue confirm the suspicion of monensin toxicosis in this horse. There was multifocal minimal to mild degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle and a few scattered areas of skeletal muscle necrosis consistent with acute monensin toxicosis.”
The third horse was a 15-year old Thoroughbred owned by the stable and used in lessons to teach the more accomplished riders. According to a necropsy, the gelding suffered from acute ionophore toxicity, which resulted in congestive heart failure.
Buis says the state veterinarian’s office sent the feed for testing and contacted authorities. “We have had the results since October 22. The feed tested positive for monensin. Alltech and Lakeland Animal Nutrition were made aware of this by the state immediately.”
Lakeland Animal Nutrition issued a voluntary recall on October 24, stating there may be a “quality issue” with its equine feed. More recently, the group said it was ceasing production of all equine feeds, effective immediately.
In a November 4th statement, the company said “we have not come to this decision lightly. It has been the result of many months of consideration and ultimately allows us to focus on core manufacturing competencies in beef, dairy, poultry, and swine along with other classes of commercial livestock.”
Test results from Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center reveal Signature Pellet lot 14-251 was positive for monensin at a concentration of 268 ppm, which is more than twice the level determined to be toxic to horses. Lot 14-280, which was also a part of the recall, tested positive for monensin at approximately 195 ppm.
Both lots tested were consumed by the farm’s horses.
According to Veterinary Toxicology, by Dr. Ramesh Gupta, feeding Monensin at a concentration of 121 ppm is toxic to horses.
Monensin is also sold under the trademarked name Rumensin. It is an ionophore. The cattle industry adds monensin to its pre-mixed feeds to help make feeding more efficient. It can end up in horse feed if produced in the same mill as cattle feed if the milling process is not managed properly.
Lakeland Animal Nutrition, a subsidiary of Alltech, says it is cooperating with authorities and has been working closely with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A spokesperson for the agency says tests on the horse feed should be back this week.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aware of the situation and is working with the state and the firm,” says spokesperson Megan Bensette. The FDA only has the authority to regulate food products that are in interstate commerce or on a federal level. “To date, the available information limits this recall to intrastate commerce,” Bensette says.
“Their dreams are crushed. These horses are the kids’ lives. The only way we can move forward is for the feed company to make this right,” says Buis.
The majority of the horse owners have hired attorney Andrew Yaffa, of the firm Grossman Roth, P.A., in Coral Gables. Yaffa says it is his goal to ensure the “devastated families are made whole for the losses they have suffered.”
Yaffa says he also wants to make sure this mistake does not repeat itself. “These horses and owners are suffering and this was totally preventable.”
“We can’t erase what happened, but we want it back,” says Buis.
Two feed mills reportedly contaminated horse feed with monensin which led to at least six horses' deaths. The FDA issued both companies Warning Letters. Is your horse's feed safe? Get the full scoop. ... Read More
The United States Department of Justice filed an enforcement action Wednesday against a Florida feed manufacturer to stop what it calls the adulteration and misbranding of medicated animal feeds.... Read More
Okeechobee, Florida A Florida court has permanently enjoined an animal feed manufacturer. It comes after 17 horses were euthanized due to the company’s alleged misbranding and adulteration of pelleted horse feed. The ... Read More
An Ohio couple accuses the maker of Tribute Equine Nutrition of knowingly distributing ionophore contaminated equine feed. An FDA investigation asserts Kalmbach manufactured a medicated feed immediately prior to Lot #71345 [... Read More
Horse owners allege Archer Daniels Midland Company poisoned their horses to death with monensin-contaminated horse feed. A class-action suit was filed Tuesday. Plaintiffs Beth Berarov and Annelisa Bindra filed the complaint ... Read More
The death of more than a dozen California horses linked to monensin tainted horse feed has prompted the filing of a lawsuit. The plaintiffs allege Western Milling, LLC, located in Goshen, was negligent in the manufacturing a... Read More
In-depth Investigation A California feed manufacturer accused of selling monensin-contaminated equine feed, knew about cross contamination issues for years, according to reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FD... Read More
Lab results confirm the deaths of three California horses were caused by monensin toxicity. The horses died last week at Katie Flanigan’s Black Fence Farm, in Fresno. Five horses have died as of Tuesday.... Read More
“This was a detrimental mistake. I’m shocked they haven’t made it right,” Kaycee MacGibbon of Running M Performance Horses says. The North Carolina barrel racer is living with the deadly consequences of contaminated ... Read More
Georgia based event rider Elisa Wallace announced she is parting ways with ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. Controversy has surrounded ADM recently due to the company's response amid allegations its feed is contaminated with mon... Read More
“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 Nu... Read More
A Georgia stable owner says the ADM grain she was feeding tested positive for monensin. Roslyn Johnson of Grantville is waiting for quantitative test results to learn how much monensin is allegedly in the feed.... Read More
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 Flor... Read More
They were fed contaminated equine feed produced by Lakeland Animal Nutrition, an Alltech subsidiary. Three horses died in October. Lakeland Animal Health issued a voluntary recall of its horse feed soon after.... Read More
In the presence of the Lakeland Nutrition Feed Recall, one can only wonder how the aggrieved could possibly be compensated for the losses suffered. In most states, horses, like all animals, are known as chattel. Chattel, und... Read More