A Davie, Florida, horse riding and boarding farm has been experiencing the devastating deaths of horses in its facility since mid-October. As reported just hours ago on Nov. 22, the Masterpiece Equestrian Center in Davie now has a barn full of desperately ill horses, and the majority of them are fighting for their lives. The cause of their plight is likely due to tainted horse feed.
Show horses worth thousands of dollars each and once healthy, well-trained riding lesson horses have been felled by an apparent case of food poisoning brought on by contaminated grains.
Three horses have died already and it has been a battle to keep the others alive. Results of the post-mortem examinations have not yet been returned. Based on suspected toxicity in the feeds being consumed by the horses, the horse owners requested testing of all feed sources. Those tests finally proved positive for Monensin which is extremely toxic to horses.
Monensin is a potent medication used by feed companies in cattle feed and, often, in poultry feed as well. It is a type of antibiotic regularly fed to cattle and added on occasion to poultry and pig feeds. Monensin can be safely administered to cattle in highly regulated amounts but horses experience severe sensitivity to Monensin and may suffer fatal reactions.
Readers may remember the recall of horse feeds in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia (Rucki article “Four states involved in recall of horse feed that’s dangerous for horses” dated Nov. 2, 2014). This article discussed the recall of feeds from Bartlett Milling Company because of the additive Rumensin®, in which Monensin is the active compound that sickens horses.
The contaminated horse feed in Florida came from Lakeland Animal Nutrition, Inc. Lakeland issued a statement throughout Florida and on its Facebook page saying:
Please be advised that the following horse feed(s) are being voluntarily recalled by Lakeland. It has come to our attention that there may be a quality issue with the equine feeds named and produced as listed below:
• Signature Status Pellet (Lot Number 14-251) – Manufacture Date: September 8
• Signature Equilete Pellet (Lot Number 14-259) – Manufacture Date: September 16
• Signature Status Pellet (Lot Number 14-280) – Manufacture Date: October 7
• LAN 10 Pellet (Lot Number 14-281) – Manufacture Date: October 8
Lakeland stated that it is not only recalling the products and giving a full refund, but it is “suspending the manufacture and sale of all equine feeds until further notice.”
Symptoms of Monensin poisoning include sudden paralysis, rapid weight loss, bleeding from the nose and collapse. The three horses at Masterpiece Equestrian Center died within a week from the onset of symptoms. According to the veterinarians at the farm, 19 horses remain sick. Many of them may have to be euthanized.
Masterpiece Equestrian Center’s attorney, Andrew Yatta, said, “It’s like watching a family member deteriorate before your eyes.”
A full investigation by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is underway to determine the cause for this contamination.
At this time, no other horse poisonings or deaths have been reported by other farms.