California Farm Loses 13 Horses, Still Reeling After Using Monensin-Tainted Feed

by | 12.04.2015 | 2:19pm

Black Fence Farm in Clovis, Calif., is still feeling the impacts of using a batch of feed that turned out to be tainted with monensin. Thirteen horses have died or been euthanized as a result of the poisoning, and another 36 have suffered permanent neurological damage with their fate unknown.

Katie Flanigan, who owns Black Fence, told the Fresno Bee she saw signs that there was something wrong with the horses as soon as they ate the contaminated product, which was traced back Western Milling of Goshen, Calif. It didn't take Flanigan long to connect the horses' symptoms with the feed they had eaten, and she immediately discontinued use of the product.

Western Milling issued a voluntary recall in September due to “possible monensin contamination,” due in part to the cases of illness on Flanigan's farm.

Flanigan said that her business has suffered as a result of the poisoning, with many of the children who take lessons at her facility going elsewhere, and she has been unable to take on new clients as she cares for the remaining horses. It's not known whether they will survive.

Monensin is an ionophore commonly used in the production of cattle feed; it's safe for cows but can be deadly to horses. The Paulick Report published a feature earlier this year detailing the ways that cross-contamination of ingredients like monensin can occur in horse feed, and how feed companies can prevent it.

Flanigan and her lawyer, Andrew Yaffa, indicated that she will bring suit against Western Milling, although the paperwork has not yet been filed. Yaffa expects any case surrounding the poisoning will settle out of court.

Read more at the Fresno Bee

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