Last month, there was a surge in dog and cat food recalls, and there has been an obvious rise in tainted horse feeds during September as well. Several specific incidents of feed poisoning and deaths of horses have occurred as a result of toxic substances in animal foods. This is a dilemma and bears the question, “Just how safe are the foods we feed our animals?” and also, “Are there any checks and balances being put into place now at the milling sites to ensure careful monitoring/cleaning of equipment to stop the contamination problem at its source?” As of Sept. 29, reports by the media have gone from national news to international coverage. Our nation’s animals are at risk and no one knows where the next tainted shipment of feed will originate or who and where it will be bought.
What we do know is that a single load of alfalfa hay was contaminated with cantharidin from blister beetles and horses died after consuming some of that hay. We know there have been horse feeds tainted with monensin, an ionophore [antibiotic] highly toxic to horses but fed regularly to ruminants for increased weight gain. There is no antidote available for horses that have ingested monensin and, if eaten by horses, results are often deadly.
In the current horse feed poisoning incident, at least five horses have died as of Sept. 29 at Black Fence Farm, Fresno County, and countless others at the stable have been sickened. The horses had all eaten Western Blend horse feed. To date, however, there has been no official confirmation by the US Food and Drug Administration [FDA] that the deaths are related to the tainted feed.
Black Fence Farm has 49 horses of which five have now died. The farm’s attorney, Andrew Yaffa, named Western Milling of Goshen as the company that sold the grain and likely is responsible for the five horse deaths. Everyone at the Black Fence Farm is concerned for the remaining 44 horses since they all were fed the Western Blend horse feed.
I can’t tell you what the mistake was but I can certainly tell you that there was a series of gross mistakes that occurred at the Western Milling facilities resulting in this horrific tragedy and this cloud that has come down on this poor lady and her business, this farm and all of these horses and these children.
Yaffa notes that the horses at Black Fence Farm have all been condemned to a death sentence. Basically, stable owner Katie Flanigan has been told there is no question if the horses will get sick, only when they’ll get sick.
Apparently, Western Milling sold 1,100 50-lb bags of Western Blend horse feed, Lot 5251, which was manufactured at its mills on Sept. 8, 2015, in the states of California and Arizona that contained monensin, where the grain was offered for retail sales by feed stores. Western Milling has put out a voluntary recall of all remaining bags, claiming all but 67 bags have been taken back.
Clinical signs of illness in horses first occur from 12 to 72 hours after consumption of the toxic feed. Affected horses display symptoms that include poor appetite, diarrhea, colic, rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties and sudden death. In instances where a horse becomes sick but overcomes the illness and survives, cardiac damage is possible.
The milling company has asked any consumer feeding Western Blend horse feed to closely check the bags purchased in the month of September for Lot 5251. According to Western Milling, “Any bags with this lot number may be returned to the stores where they were purchased for a full refund. For more information, please call the company at 1-559-302-1062.”
ABC Action News reports that it has reached out to Western Milling a number of times without result. Now Action News is transferred automatically to a voicemail for “recall of Lot 5251.
HorseChannel.com has a video taken at Black Fence Farm, Click here.