Birds Can Also Produce Milk For Their Chicks

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By Karen Mae Cordon | September 22, 2011 8:45 AM EST

It is a common knowledge that mammals are the only animal types that can produce milk for their babies. However, research shows that even birds like pigeons and flamingos can also feed their chicks with their own milk.

Surprisingly, this avian milk can be produced not only by female birds but also by male birds. When the baby birds receive avian milk, they will have higher immunity levels.

This strange phenomenon was researched and studied by the BMC Genomics Team. It was found that avian milk fulfils a similar function to mammalian milk. They also found out that birds have genes to produce antioxidants and immune proteins.

Therefore, the main function of avian milk is to build the immune system of newly hatched birds and to provide nutrients essential for growth and development. Avian milk is produced on avian cells and is filled with fat and protein.

“It is possible that if antioxidant and immune proteins are present in pigeon 'milk', they are directly enhancing the immune system of the developing squab as well as protecting the parental crop tissue.” says Meagan Gillespie, one of the authors of this study. She also reported that chicks are fed with milk on the first week of their existence and drink milk and eat adult food on the succeeding weeks.

The Avian Milk and The Avian Flu

Since avian milk can boost chick’s immune system and save them from different diseases, baby birds are safe from avian flu.

Recent news reported that avian flu killed numerous birds in Australia and in other countries. This instance alarmed the world for another pandemic disease caused by these winged animals.

More studies should be conducted on how avian milk is produced and how can it help in preventing different avian diseases from spreading. Thus, avoiding the transmission to man.

Other Avian Diseases

Aside from Avian Influenza, there are different avian diseases that can harm man’s health. Here are some of them:

1. Avian Tuberculosis
This can be acquired when the bacteria and viruses on bird’s feces entersthe human system through inhalation. This disease can affect both man and birds, and could lead to death as well.

2. Chlamydiosis
Commonly known as Parrot Disease, chlamydiosis can be transmitted easily from one man to another. Most victims of this type of avian caused disease are usually quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease.

3. Campylobacteriosis
The most commonly affected system of this disease is the gastrointestinal system. Though this disease is associated with diarrhea and lethargy in men, infected birds do not show any symptoms.

Aside from these, there are also other avian diseases like giardia, cryptosporidiosis, New Castle’s Disease, and salmonellosis. Perhaps, if people know how to treat and prevent birds from having these diseases, then transmission to man may also be decreased or eliminated.

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