Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Official: Colorado firm’s alfalfa cubes can kill horses

Baton Rouge, La. (AP) – State and federal officials are warning horse owners not to feed their animals Top of the Rockies brand alfalfa cubes after nearly 100 horses developed neurological illnesses — 45 of whom have died or euthanasia has taken place.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued the warning on Saturday. The agency said it is working with state agriculture departments in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas to investigate the horse deaths.

Manzanola Feeds of Manzanola, Colorado, recalled the cubes on Friday. The company warns that some batches may contain bacteria that cause botulism, a fatal paralytic disease. The FDA said further testing is ongoing to confirm the cause of the reported illnesses.

The company distributes products directly to stores in 10 states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin. The FDA warns that the cubes may be sold in other states as well.

Symptoms include dizziness, trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, bloating, and constipation. Anyone who feeds cubes to a horse or notices symptoms should contact a veterinarian immediately.

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Some cubes have been found to contain a substance resembling fur and animal tissue, which may have accumulated during the harvesting of alfalfa. The bacteria that cause botulism are found in decomposing animal carcasses.

Top of the Rockies Alfalfa Cubes is sold in white and tan plastic 50-pound bags with green labeling. Date codes are on the front of the package. The potentially contaminated lots include those with date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522 and 111622.

The FDA advises anyone with cubes to throw them away in a safe container. People should wear gloves and a face mask when emptying containers with cubes, then apply bleach solution to any feed bin or container. More specific tips on disposal can be found here.

The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine said its lab has performed autopsies on 12 horses. Some of the alfalfa cubes and tissues from those horses are being tested at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

LSU says an equine medicine professor is treating other horses with symptoms.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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