Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

Contaminated corn fatal for horses

Conditions in corn fields across the region High Plains were right this year to produce a deadly toxin already responsible for the death of two horses in the Panhandle, USA said a Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory official in Amarillo.

Dr John Haliburton, head of diagnostic toxicology for the vet lab, said fumonisin has been found in a random sample of corn by the Texas State Chemist Office at Texas A&M University in College Station, and in two samples he tested in Amarillo.

Horses are the most sensitive

Horses are the most sensitive to this toxin, with pigs the next most sensitive, Haliburton said. Cattle are not as sensitive, and therefore, can eat corn that is not suitable for horses or pigs. "We have thousands of backyard horse owners who may be feeding corn or corn screenings and they need to be aware of the potential problem this year," he said.
Corn that is going into a horse ration should not have more than 5 parts per million of the toxin. The three corn samples he tested had more than 20 parts per million.

Fatal toxins
Horses that eat the toxic corn develop lesions in their brains, causing blindness that can occur overnight, staggering, extreme depression or extreme agitation and finally death, he said. In pigs, the toxin affects the lung and causes massive edema. "It's 99.9% fatal," Haliburton said.

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