FDA Cautions Horse Owners Not to Feed Recalled Lots of Top of the Rockies Alfalfa Cubes due to Reports of Illness and Death

December 17, 2022

LSU Vet Med is working with the FDA and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture

On December 17, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about recalled lots of alfalfa cubes that appear to have caused illness and death in horses; at this time the FDA reports that horses in Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado have shown neurological signs that may be related to this issue. The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is working with the FDA and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF) to investigate this issue and treat some of the affected horses.

At this time, the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (LADDL) at LSU Vet Med has conducted necropsies on 12 horses. Testing of some of the alfalfa cubes and tissues from those horses is being conducted by the diagnostic lab at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

LSU Vet Med cannot comment on its patients due to patient privacy laws, but Rose Baker, BVMS, DACVIM, assistant professor of equine medicine, is treating some horses with neurological signs believed to be related to this issue. If information becomes available that affects horse health, LSU Vet Med will work with the FDA and LDAF on advisories for the public. Dr. Baker is working with both of these agencies to investigate the cause and protect horses.

If you believe that your horse has been affected, please contact your veterinarian immediately or the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 225-578-9500. 

For more information on what to do as a horse owner or how to report a horse illness

Read the Full FDA Advisory

Here are a few facts issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today (link to complete advisory above):

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cautioning horse owners not to feed Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622. 
  • These alfalfa cubes have been recalled by Manzanola Feeds of Manzanola, CO, which distributes products directly to feed stores and co-ops in 10 states. Further distribution is possible, so it’s important to check the date codes if you have these products.
  • 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.
  • If you have Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with these date codes, or you can’t be sure of the date code of the products you have, throw them away in a secure container and follow the handling and cleaning instructions below. 
  • FDA is aware of at least 98 horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas who showed neurologic symptoms. At least 45 of these horses have died or were euthanized due to declining health. 
  • The symptoms reported are consistent with botulism, and while further testing is underway to pinpoint the cause of the horse illnesses, horse owners and handlers should take precautions to protect human and animal health.
  • Immediately consult a veterinarian if your horse ate this product and shows signs of neurologic illness, such as muscle tremors, difficulty eating or swallowing, difficulty standing, or collapse.

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The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. LSU Vet Med is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.