LATEST UPDATE: The state of Florida has fined Lakeland Animal Nutrition $4,000 after feed they manufactured and sold poisoned 22 horses at Masterpiece Equestrian Center in Davie, Florida.
An investigation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services revealed two violations for adulterating and misbranding commercial equine feed and two violations of distributing adulterated feed. The company was fined $1,000 for each violation.
UPDATE: Two more horses have died as the result of eating tainted feed last fall at Masterpiece Equestrian Center, in Davie, Florida. That brings the death toll to six. The remaining 16 horses are also expected to die from the poisoning.
At the end of December, it was announced that the feed manufacturer, Lakeland Animal Nutrition, had reached a settlement with the 20 horse owners. While the amount of the settlement is confidential, the lawyer representing Masterpiece and the owners, Andy Yaffa, said it is enough for everyone to care for ailing horses and to purchase new ones. It was noted that the value of the affected horses ranged from $25,000 and up.
The horses and owners at Masterpiece Equestrian Center, in Davie, Florida, have been living a nightmare since October, when horses started getting sick after ingesting contaminated feed.
Since then, four horses have died, and still more are in declining health. It is expected that the entire population will eventually be wiped out. Eighteen show and lesson horses remain at the stable, with owners reluctant to let them go.
After the first three horses became ill in October – developing sudden paralysis and collapsing, and dying within a week – their feed was tested. Results showed that it contained monensin, a medication used in poultry and cattle feed, which is too strong for horses.
The feed manufacturer, Lakeland Animal Nutrition, has been in business for 95 years. In statement released in November, the company said they had recalled the feed and initiated an investigation. Later, they confirmed that testing carried out by the Florida Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of monensin and lasalocid, a growth additive, also toxic to horses, in some of the feed samples.
According to Lakeland Animal Nutrition, no other deaths have been reported. They pledge to re-examine their quality procedures and to work with Masterpiece Equestrian Center to attempt to restore their losses.
At this time, no lawsuits have been filed against the company.