I strongly urge anyone who is feeding any bagged haylage to have their horse vaccinated for botulism.
My pony almost died last year from Lucern Hi Fi. It was misdiagnosed but I got a heads up out of the box specialist to come to him in a blizzard and make the call.
A lab test confirmed the product strong positive for botulism toxins A and B.
Apparently this is near impossible to prove...but I have indeed a lab positive result...so this is why people think their horse laid down and died from something else...and at that point who is going to spend the money for any testing or autopsy! spend the money..get vaccinated...and for the most part you can rule out botulism. I can never feed that kind of product again regardless....I know of an older horse that laid down and would not get up. They assumed he just went down and died of old age but he was being fed the haylage. Now they wonder what killed him. GET VACCINATED if you are going to feed any bagged haylage. It is not worth the risk...and the vaccines are not that expensive when u consider the alternative.
We had a horse die from botulism last year. A dead animal in a compressed bale can cause exposure. Of course by the time you see symptoms it is often quite late because it's the botulinum toxin that gets you, not the clostridium bacterium itself.
Fella gets his third shot today.
He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).
Ignorance is bliss. Years ago I boarded at a farm where our hay often had dead deer parts inside the bales. I don't think we even vaccinated for Botulism back then. Yikes. That's one scary disease. The vaccine does help, but it's not a 100% guaranteee.
Yes, ignorance MAY be bliss until you have a horse hit with botulism. It's very nearly always fatal and it's really a horrible death.
A $20 vaccination is a small price to pay for protection against the most prevalent type B.
Years ago I had heard it was a "round bale problem". I didn't vaccinate for it, nor did my vet at the time recommend it.
Well, I learned my lesson the hard way. Lucky for me, my 3 yr. old horse survived, but only with immediate hospitalization, early administration of antitoxin and a total 3 month $25,000 bill. Scariest thing I've ever witnessed to watch a horse neurologically "melt down" so quickly. Thank God it wasn't Type C.
What's really sad is my neighbor whose daughter was working here at the time and was going through this saga were feeding round bales to their horse and their 1 boarded horse. The boarded horse was vaccinated, but they lost their big grey 5 year old Perch to botulism munching on the same round bale. Granted, there can be a "pocket" of within a bale that affects a single horse without another. It's a crap shoot.
Guess watching what my "Kingsley" went through didn't teach them a thing --just to save $20 bucks on a vaccination.
Footnote: there is no way to know if it's type B or C that has stricken the horse until fecal cultures are done and that can take many days. Therefore, when a horse is treated with antitoxin it is only for Type B without really knowing. Typically they need feeding tubes (as they cannot swallow as everyting is paralzed -- including the blink response, so ointment is needed to keep the eyeballs moist -- so one can spend $15K in just 3 days for hospital care (for Type B) and still lose the battle if it turns out to be Type C. It's is good to know Type B is the MOST prevalent and there is a vaccination for it, though.