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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Black Walnut Shavings and Laminitis Subject of Texas Court Case

Owners who bed their horses on shavings or sawdust need to have a trusting relationship with their suppliers. Occasionally, black walnut shavings find their way into the supply line. While this might not bother the guinea pig or the rabbit in their cages, it's a potential crisis at a horse barn. The latest case is in Texas, where a single horse was stricken with laminitis which was believed to have been caused by a small amount of black walnut in the bedding. (Kristen Fulara photo)

The following news item is reprinted for educational purposes.

Toxic black walnut wood shavings sold as bedding caused an Arabian horse to develop laminitis, a Texas ranch claims in court.

An Arabian horse developed laminitis in August of 2011, according to the complaint in Bexar County.

The ranch says it reached out to a veterinarian when the horse exhibited pain and swelling in its legs and sheath area. While examining the stable, the ranch allegedly noticed dark wood shavings with a distinct smell.

The ranch claims it had just switched out the wood shavings the day before, putting in a batch from a livestock product supplier,which obtained the bedding from a hardwoods product manufacturer.

It is possible that as little as 10 percent black walnut shavings can cause laminitis in horses. The entire bedding does not need to be dark-colored. The black walnut can look like threads among the lighter colors. Photo from Purdue Extension special report on black walnut shavings and laminitis.

Once the veterinarian diagnosed the horse as suffering from acute laminitis, he tested a sample of the bedding, according to the complaint.

The ranch says the supplier identified various woods that might explain the dark shavings, first naming elder, then cherry and mesquite.

But the Texas Veterinarian Medical Diagnostic Laboratories Systems at Texas A&M University ran more tests and identified the true source -- black walnut -- a wood known to cause laminitis when used as horse bedding, the ranch says.

The supplier later "admitted that earlier in 2011 another shipment of shavings from (the manufacturer) had contained black walnut and caused a similar incident with another one of (the supplier's) customer's horses," according to the complaint.

The ranch seeks exemplary damages for negligence, deceptive trade practices, breach of warranty and product liability.

It sued the livestock supplier, the hardwood manufacturer, and its owners.

The horse is undergoing medical care, but its owners say they cannot show or breed the horse.

This report was provided to the Hoof Blog by Courthouse News Service.

The complete transcript of the lawsuit can be downloaded as a pdf file: Texas laminitis black walnut shavings lawsuit. Watch the Hoof Blog for the outcome of the suit.

To learn more: Download the Purdue Extension special report on black walnut shavings and laminitis.

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