KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The FDA warns horse owners not to feed their animals a certain brand of alfalfa cubes after nearly 100 horses develop neurologic illnesses.
Forty-five horses have either died or been euthanized after eating Top of the Rockies brand alfalfa cubes which are sold in both Missouri and Kansas, according to an FDA warning issued Saturday.
To reflect on this recall, FOX4 headed out to Silvertooth Stables in Kansas City to hear about the potential impact to horses.
Ed Adams, the owner of Silvertooth Stables, closely monitors what the animals eat. The reason – beyond nutrition – is a fundamental difference between humans and horses.
“They don’t throw up. Cattle do, humans do, but horses do not,” Adams said.
Rollicking is actually the number one cause of death for horses, Adams said. So that is an issue for horses that ate the Top of the Rockies brand alfalfa cubes recalled by Manzanola Foods. Botulism is an issue tied to food.
“Just like humans going into a restaurant – you don’t want to have any contamination/viruses in your food – we have to do the same thing with our horses,” Adams said.
“The horse will tell you everything wrong. Even if you pass it by and don’t feed it, the horse will tell you. So – if you look at this horse right now, it’s standing still. It’s comfortable. It just got back in from the pasture. It just got done with its food,” he said.
If the horse was not feeling well it might be pushing on its stomach, agitated, laying down, or have accelerated breathing, he said.
According to the FDA alert, some cubes have been reported to contain what appears to be fur and animal tissues, which may have been ground up during alfalfa harvesting. Botulism-causing bacteria is found in decaying animal carcasses.
Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes are sold in white and tan plastic 50-pound bags with green labeling. The date codes are on the front of the package. Potentially contaminated lots include those with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622.
The FDA advises anyone with the cubes to throw them away in a secure container. People should wear gloves and a face mask when emptying containers with the cubes, then apply bleach solution to any feed bins or containers. More specific tips on disposal can be found here.
The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine said its lab has conducted necropsies on 12 horses. Testing of some alfalfa cubes and tissues from those horses is being done at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.