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Settlement reached in horse deaths caused by toxic feed made by Lakeland Animal Feed

A Florida equestrian center where 22 horses were poisoned by tainted feed has reached a settlement with Lakeland Animal Nutrition, the company that produced and sold the feed.

Although the terms of the settlement with Lakeland Animal Nutrition are confidential, it is reported that all of the owners of the horses will be able to buy new horses and care for the remaining ailing horses — all of which are expected to die. The afflicted horses range from ponies worth $25,000 to $50,000 to elite competitors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The feed arrived at the center in September, but it was weeks before anyone realized something was wrong with the horses. It wasn’t until three horses at the farm developed sudden paralysis and collapsed in October that they knew something was wrong; within a week all three horses died.

Days later, testing of the feed, conducted at the horse owners’ request, came back positive for monensin, an anti-bacterial additives safe for livestock such as cattle and some poultry, but deadly to horses.

Monensin (Rumensin—Elanco) is produced as an additive for feeds for ruminants. The problem, however, is that horses are extremely sensitive to monensin poisoning.

After learning of the test results, Lakeland Animal Nutrition recalled the contaminated horse feed products. The company claims the contamination was limited to the feed at the equestrian center, and that no other horses have been reported to have been sickened because of it.

Since the first deaths in October, three more horses had to be euthanized, bringing the death toll at the farm to six since October.

Necropsies performed on four horses that died at the farm before the settlement last week confirmed monensin poisoning.

All the horses at the center ate the contaminated feed, and all are expected to eventually die. The remaining horses all are showing progressive symptoms of monensin poisoning, including difficulty standing. Treatment of monensin poisoning is primarily supportive – there is no antidote.

Their owners can do little except keep vigil over the animals as their health fails. While they wait, they try to keep their horses comfortable, give them extra treats, grooming them, and lavishing them with love and attention.

Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (3) Write a comment

  1. I realize this is ‘old news’, but am trying to make sense of it. On Oct 2014 Bartlett Milling Company discovered Monesin in their horse feed and initiated a limited RECALL of this feed. NOTE: The products were distributed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennesee and Virginia.

    in 2014, 22 horses die of Monesin poisoning in FL. at Masterpiece Center and a settlement was reached in Dec 2014.
    But then the poison was found in South Carolina in Jan 2015: http://www.poisonedpets.com/deadly-horse-feed-still-sale-adm-alliance-refuses-pull-feed/. It was also distributed by ADM Alliance Nutrition.

    Then in Jan 2015 Georgia had 11 horses test positive for Monesin also sold by ADM. Tests were inconclusive, so the product was not recalled or pulled from the shelves, so far that I know.

    One website http://eventingnation.com/contaminated-horse-feed-causes-panic-in-georgia/, poses the question as to why there is not a WARNING LABEL on the bags of feed that have been manufactured on the same equipment as feed containing Monesin?

    All the FDA would say is they are aware of the situation “and looking into it.” …Not good enough.

    I am wondering what has transpired in these last 8 months. Have there been any reports of equestrian illnesses in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, or elsewhere, where unaware customers also purchased the same feed?

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  2. Both my horses are dead because of this feed , paint mare and pony one died in March the other may 2015 . And tn walker has problems now with shaking and this was in February of 2015. Ocala fl area had poison and I don’t see any one getting paid for the loses . Nothing can bring them back

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  3. I find it hard to believe, as Lakeland states, ‘the contamination was limited to the feed at the equestrian center, (Masterpiece Equestrian), and that no other horses have been reported to have been sickened because of it.’ It defies logic that this particular stable was the only one that purchased the toxic feed. With four lot numbers since September and hundreds of customers…???

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