Tennessee Farmers Cooperative officials voluntarily recalled four lots of horse feed in early and mid-November after a horse's death was linked to the feed, which contained high levels of a livestock drug. The 10% Grain Mix (item #93638) was contaminated with rumensin (monensin sodium), a common cattle drug.

John Niver, nutritionist at the Co-op, said, "Rumensin is typically for promotion of feed efficiency in beef cattle, and at certain levels for prevention of coccidiosis (a protozoan infection)." Niver said the Co-op is trying to determine how the rumensin got in the horse feed.

Monensin is particularly lethal to horses--a dose of just 1.0-3.0 milligrams per kilogram of equine body weight can kill more than 50% of the horses that eat it. Horses with monensin poisoning become progressively weak (especially in the hindquarters), uncoordinated, and disoriented, and they often develop colic, labored breathing, and profuse sweating before death. Horses that recover can experience long-term heart problems, unthriftiness, and poor performance.

The Co-op recalled four lots of the feed (4276593638, 4283593638, 4287593638, or 4290593638 printed on the back of the bags), which were distributed between Oct. 10 and Oct. 25, to five Co-op feed outlets in East Tennessee and one store in northeastern South Carolina. Only one lot (4287593638) is of major concern, Niver explained. There were about 123 bags in that lot, which were dispersed to three member Co-ops in Eastern Tennessee--McMinn/Loudon, Blunt, and Monroe Farmer's Cooperatives.

Co-op officials were alerted when one horse died after consuming the feed. Two more horses died after eating the contaminated feed before their owners could be notified about the contamination. The locations, breeds, and ages of these horses weren't available, but all three were kept on different farms and had eaten feed from lot 4287593638 that was sold from the McMinn/Loudon Co-op.

Niver said as soon as the first death was reported, Co-op officials began alerting the Co-ops that distributed the lots. "This (the feed tracking and alerting horse owners) was all done by phone, and to the best of our knowledge, we've had them (the Co-ops) in contact with everyone who purchased that feed," he said. "The general response has been very quiet…I think the fact that our people had already contacted a majority of the folks involved helped."

If you have purchased 10% Grain Mix with the specified lot numbers, discontinue storing or using the grain and return it to your dealer for replacement. If your horses have already ingested the feed (especially from lot 4287593638) do not work them and contact your veterinarian immediately.

If you have questions or concerns, contact Co-op Feed and Animal Health Division operations officer Jim Sherman at 800/366-2667, extension 8401, or John Niver at extension 8497.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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