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Avoiding Feed Mill Horse Feed Poisoning
 By Winniefield Park   •   11th Jan 2015   •   2,583 views   •   0 comments
Feed Mill Horse Feed Poisoning

You might remember the story about the horses that died of monensin poisoning back in December. Monensin is an additive to livestock feed, most commonly in cattle feeds, that is deadly poisonous to horses. It’s never intentionally added to horse feed, but cases of it finding its way accidentally into a batch aren’t unusual.

Related: Dangers of Monensin Antibiotics in Horse Feed

Many people don’t think twice about buying their horse feed from the same feed mill that mixes cattle or chicken feed, but maybe they should. The best way to avoid feeding horse concentrates contaminated with monensin is to buy feed from a mill that specializes only in horse feed. That way, the tail end of a batch of cattle feed won’t end up in a bag of horse feed, or a new trainee, that might not know better, won’t throw in an additive that does not belong. There are lots of companies around that make only horse feed, and these might be the safest to buy from.

Unwanted additives aren’t the only undesirable things that can find their way into horse feed. Moldy corn can also become toxic. Corn that is stressed during a bad growing season may become infected with a fungus called fusarium. The fungus produces a toxin that is deadly to horses. Some horses will die with severe nervous system dysfunctions while others will develop liver disease. Be willing to pay for top quality feeds to avoid fusarium poisoning.

Wheat in horse feed is another problem. Wheat is a high starch and gluten food that can’t be digested well by horses. Colic and other health issues can arise if wheat is fed. Ergot poisoning is as dangerous to horses as it is to humans. Ergot is a fungus that grows on wheat and produces a toxin that can be deadly - another good reason to avoid wheat in horse feeds. Learn to identify the various grains in your feed mix and watch for changes in the ingredients of each bag

Of course, too much of any grain, no matter how carefully chosen or high quality is toxic to horses, leading to colic and founder. Keep your feed supplies locked away from your horses to prevent anyone ‘raiding the cookie jar’ if they escape from their stall at night.

Hay and pasture can contain toxins too. Most of us know molds in hay cause respiratory problems. But, molds can also cause colic and some can cause broodmares to abort foals. Botulism poisoning can be a concern, especially if feeding haylage or silage. Hay can contain toxic weeds too. Plants like bracken fern, red maple and oak, hoary alyssum, and other leaves and weeds can contaminate hay and pasture grass, causing colic, founder and nervous system disorders. Learn to identify good quality hay and recognize the problem weeds, plants and trees in your area.

Keeping your feed clean and protected from weather and rodents will help prevent some poisonings. Opossums carry the protozoa responsible for EPM or equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, and don’t hesitate to relieve themselves on your stack of nice clean hay.

Related: Horse We Purchased At Auction Was Drugged

Avoiding feed poisonings just takes a little awareness. Check what you feed your horse, and where it comes from, so you can have peace of mind when feeding time comes.
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