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Alfalfa Hay, Horse Feed Subject to Limited Recalls



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“Hay is for horses” goes the old expression, but the recall of a single load of alfalfa hay shows this isn’t always the case.

The Murphy Farm Hay and Feed Co. in Louisburg, N.C., has recalled the alfalfa hay because of a potential blister beetle contamination.

The hay originated in Kansas and was sold to consumers at Murphy Farm Hay and Feed in Louisburg, N.C., and at the Jones Farm Hay and Feed in Middlesex, N.C.

Officials from the N.C. Department of Agriculture determined that the alfalfa hay delivered to Murphy Farm Hay and Feed on Aug. 11, 2015, is most likely the source of the blister beetle contamination.

A sample of the potentially contaminated hay tested positive for cantharidin, a poisonous substance found in blister beetles, and suspected in the deaths of half a dozen horses.

While cattle, goats and sheep are affected by cantharidin, they tend to not be impacted to the same degree of severity as horses.

The hay from the contaminated lot is best described as: “square-baled alfalfa hay, bound in reddish-orange twine and weighing approximately 70 pounds.”

The FDA cautions people that contaminated hay may not have visible beetles.

Horse owners should monitor their animals and look for inflammation, colic, straining, elevated temperature, depression, blood in the urine, increased heart rate and respiration, dehydration, sweating and diarrhea.

Death can occur from a few hours to up to about three days after exposure, so it is vital to contact a veterinarian as soon as blister beetle poisoning is suspected.

Retailers have been told to immediately pull the recalled product from sale and to notify customers who may have purchased any of the recalled product. 

Customers, who purchased alfalfa hay, bound with reddish-orange twine and bought on or after Aug. 11, 2015, at either location, are encouraged to stop using it immediately and return any unused portion to where it was purchased.

For more information on the alfalfa recall, contact Will Murphy with Murphy Farm Hay and Feed Co. at 919-496-4646 from 7 a.m. to noon EST Monday through Sunday or at 919-495-3875 outside of regular business hours.

In a second horse-related recall, Western Milling of Goshen, Calif., recalled more than 1,000 50-pound bags of Western Blend horse feed because it was learned that an ingredient in the feed being recalled contained monensin, an ionophore.

The recalled bags are from lot 5251 and were manufactured Sept. 18, 2015.

Clinical signs of ionophore poisoning in horses include poor appetite and feed refusal of the grain product, diarrhea, weakness, rapid heart rate, labored breathing, decreased exercise tolerance, depression, wobbly gait, colic, sweating, recumbency and sudden death, notes the FDA.

The first clinical signs of ionophore poisoning occur 12 to 72 hours after ingesting a toxic dose, and the clinical signs may linger up to about eight days.

Permanent cardiac damage is possible in horses that show adverse effects but recover.

The recalled feed was distributed in Sept. 2015 to stores in California and Arizona. All stores where the bags were sold have been notified.

Of the 1,100 bags being recalled—all but 67 bags have already been reclaimed by Western Milling.

Consumers are urged to examine any bags of Western Blend horse feed purchased in September to check and see if they have lot number 5251. Any bags with this lot number may be returned to the stores where they were purchased for a full refund.

The voluntary recall comes after a report that several horses at the same equine facility died after ingesting the recalled feed.

For more information, call 559-302-1062.

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