Key words Milk composition
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Growth rates of mammalian young are closely linked to the ability of the mother to provide nutrients; thus, milk composition and yield provide a direct measure of maternal investment during lactation in many mammals. We studied changes in milk composition and output throughout lactation in a free-ranging population of the omnivorous bat, Phyllostomus hastatus. Fat and dry matter of milk increased from 9 to 21% and from 21 to 35% of wet mass, respectively, throughout lactation. Energy increased from 6 to 9 kJ · g−1 wet mass, primarily due to the increase in fat concentration. Total sugar levels decreased slightly but non-significantly. Mean sugar level was 4.0% of wet mass. Protein concentration increased from 6 to 11% of wet mass at peak lactation and then decreased as pups approached weaning age. Total milk energy output until pups began to forage was 3609 kJ. Milk levels of Mg, Fe, Ca, K, and Na averaged 0.55 ± 0.26, 0.23 ± 0.2, 8.75 ± 4.17, 5.42 ± 2.11, and 9.87 ± 4.3 mg · g−1 dry matter, respectively. Of the minerals studied, calcium appears to be most limiting in this species. The high degree of variability in foraging time, milk composition and milk yield between individuals at the same stage of lactation could potentially yield high variance in reproductive success among females of this polygynous species.
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