Monensin poisoning is a risk in feed mills that process both antibiotic-enhanced poultry and livestock feeds as well as horse feeds. Foals photo by Lulu.
This story will be short, as there are few facts to report at this point. The facts we have are deadly and tragic: three horses died in December in South Carolina, believed to be the victims of monensin poisoning in contaminated horse feed.
This may be the third time in two months that monensin-related contamination has been been reported in horse feed in southeastern states.
On December 23, 2014, owner Anne Kennedy of Camelot Farms on St Helena Island in South Carolina posted on the farm's Facebook page that three horses from her farm had indeed died of what she believes to be monensin poisoning. She independently tested her grain and reported it to be contaminated.
Her statements have not been verified, but this report is being published in the interest of public information and safety.
To be clear: As of 5 p.m. on Monday, January 5, no public statement has been made by the state or the feed company believed to be at fault. No voluntary or mandatory recall of feed has been announced by the US Food and Drug Administration.
An interview with South Carolina State Veterinarian Adam Eichelberger, DVM today revealed only that no infectious diseases had been identified in Beaufort County, where Camelot Farms is located.
It is difficult to report on a story like this without any official statements. Obviously, horse owners in the Southeast should monitor their horses' health and watch for colic-like symptoms if they recently had a feed delivery. Concerned horse owners should contact their veterinary service providers, local feed dealers, and county or state agriculture officials to find out if any adverse reactions to feed have been seen in their areas or what advice is being given should any symptoms of poisoning arise.
In November, The Jurga Report detailed a voluntary recall of possibly contaminated feed in the southeastern states by Bartlett Feed. In December, horses died at a farm in Davie, Florida following monensin poisoning in feed supplied by Lakeland Animal Nutrition, which issued a recall of its products.
Consumer protection in the pet industry is becoming an area of major concern and the horse industry should probably also be asking serious questions about how and if equine products are being inspected before distribution.
Take a few minutes and ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you know what your state's procedure is for notifying horse owners about horse product safety issues?
2. Do you have confidence in the safety of products you feed to your horse and use in your stable?
3. If you ever suspected a problem with a product or feed, what would you do?
4. Do you know if antibiotic-enhanced poultry/livestock feeds or other potential contaminants or toxins are used in the same mill as the horse feed and supplements that you use?