Two horses in South Carolina die with clinical signs that may point to monensin poisoning


Manufacturer says there is no evidence to indicate contamination; ranch owner says multiple tests confirm monensin in feed.

Clinical signs presenting in horses at Camelot Farms in St. Helena Island, South Carolina, in December may indicate monensin poisoning, farm owners say. To date, the ranch has lost three horses.

"Two others we managed to pull back from the brink with lots of vet assistance, gallon after gallon of fluids, a huge and broad assortment of antibiotics and special drugs to make the bowels work," says Mark Kennedy, owner of Camelot Farms. Another horse was sent to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia and after eight days of treatment has returned to Camelot Farms. Kennedy says the horse is weak, but the prognosis looks "pretty good."

Kennedy says he has results from multiple tests of multiple lots of the feed that confirm monensin contamination. However, a sample of the horses' feed tested at Michigan State University's Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health in East Lansing, Michigan, returned this conclusion: "Monensin was observed in trace quantities (> 0.2 ppm)." It's inconclusive whether there was enough contamination to cause injury to the Camelot Farms horses.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is now testing the feed. A representative from ADM Alliance Nutrition, the feed manufacturer, says the company has also sent samples for testing.

ADM Alliance Nutrition has not removed any product from the marketplace. Attorney Andrew Yaffa, who has advised Kennedy in this case, says the company is taking the exact opposite approach that Lakeland did in the Florida monensin contamination case. He says that by doing so, they company is taking a huge risk.

ADM Alliance Nutrition issued a statement to dvm360. "We're not aware that authorities have made any determination as to what caused the deaths, and based on our investigation to date, we have not found any evidence that our horse feed caused or contributed to the deaths," says Jackie Anderson of ADM Media Relations.

"I don't know how anyone can make that statement without sticking your head in the sand," Yaffa says.

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