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Subspecies and body size allometry affect milk production and composition, and calf growth in red deer: comparison of Cervus elaphus hispanicus and Cervus elaphus scoticus



Subspecies and body size allometry affect milk production and composition, and calf growth in red deer: comparison of Cervus elaphus hispanicus and Cervus elaphus scoticus



Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 76(4): 594-602



Studies comparing lactation in wild mammals have shown that maternal weight scales with offspring weight, milk production, or its energy. However, no study appears to have scaled milk composition with maternal or offspring weight. Although diet affects milk composition and production, their effects in biological studies have almost never seemed to be controlled. In this study, we compare two subspecies of red deer, Scottish deer, Cervus elaphus scoticus (10 lactations), and Iberian deer, Cervus elaphus hispanicus (14 lactations), kept under the same diet and housing to assess differences in hind and calf weights and their trends, milk production and composition, and their allometric relationships. Scottish hinds were heavier, and calf weight and gains were greater than Iberian ones, with greater milk production and milk protein content, but they did not differ in fat or lactose content. Calf birth weight, milk production, and protein content showed significant allometric relationships with maternal weight, but no relationship was found for fat, lactose, or any of these variables with calf birth weight. Protein content correlated with calf birth weight, and calf weight trend depended on milk protein production rather than on that of fat or lactose. Protein may be the most important milk component to explain growth and milk composition differences between closely related mammals. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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Accession: 009988788

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 13130438

DOI: 10.1086/375660


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