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People still discuss, and for decades, the appropriate duration of breastfeeding their children, and who knows if there is a right answer and if everyone will come to accept it and make it their own, but this is not what we want to talk about today. Let's broaden our gaze and talk aboutbreastfeeding in the animal world, starting from a particular, record-breaking case, and then continuing with the two animals that we most often find at our side.
Breastfeeding in the animal world: record
Eight or nine years. Yes, this is it record duration of breastfeeding in the animal world and we owe it to orangutan mothers who feed their cubs until they reach this age. It is a bit impressive to imagine that this happens, because in our rhythm of life, a little man a eight years he has already been attending school for a few years, maybe playing a sport and, unfortunately, he has a smartphone of his own in his pocket. Breastfeeding is not mentioned.
The orangutans they grow up and are weaned in their own way, rightly so, and mom gives them milk for a long time.
This discovery is quite recent, at least in an official way. It was done by researchers from the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health of the Icahn School of Medicine in Mt. Sinai. When they found all this, they shouted "record" because there are actually no other primates that can boast such timing. It was already known that at least up to 5 years of age, the orangutan babies depended on their mothers, but now the duration has extended to three years. The milk, in recent years, it is more used for supplement the diet of young primates, when they cannot find fruit or other foods around to satisfy them.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers went to measure the levels of barium in q's teethfour orangutans from Borneo and Sumatra, died years earlier, because this metal is more present in the teeth during breastfeeding.
This method could in the future also be used on humans, to understand the dietary histories of our species and therefore the relationship between the infant diet, the outcomes of childhood health and population growth.
Lactation in the animal world: cats
THE cats, animals that always seem to know their stuff, how they manage this delicate phase of their young's life. First of all, the total duration is 60 days, two months, nothing more, but it's not over because there are different phases with different characteristics from time to time, designed to make the kittens autonomous in feeding in time.
In the very first days of life, it is spoken of feeding time but the liquid that the kittens absorb from their mother is not really milk but colostrum. It is a thick liquid and very rich in proteins, fats, mineral salts and antibodies. It contains everything you need to accompany newborns in their growth before their hours of life, protecting them from the diseases they are exposed to because they have not yet had the time and the way to develop their immune systems fully. This phase, with colostrum, lasts very little, maximum five days, then the mother provides the babies with real milk and so on until the end of breastfeeding.
We have said 60 days but in truth in some cases it can last even 40 days, just over a month. The actual term depends on the mother who at some point no longer has milk for her babies. In a completely natural way every mother cat it is able to produce a certain quantity of milk depending also on the number of children, but it is always quality milk that will make them grow in strength. We also take into account the rhythm of feedings. They are usually one every half hour, and they last about 15-20 minutes.
Then there are some details that certainly escape the non-experts. As the position of the breasts changes, for example, the nutritional properties of milk that the little ones can have, the hindquarters are usually the best. The cat first needs to be strong and healthy in order to have adequate milk, this means she has to eat 5 times a day foods rich in integrated proteins with mineral salts and vitamins such as calcium-phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin C. If, unfortunately, the cat is not there or is unable to breastfeed her young, infant formula should be used up to three weeks of life, weaning is hastened.
Lactation of the animal world: dogs
The lactation period of dogs it is not much longer than that of cats and it is always important that the mother is healthy and properly fed. Together with the vet, we can establish a specific diet that allows you to stay strong. It usually has four or five meals a day with one special feed for growing dogs because it provides them with an adequate amount of protein, calories and calcium.
Another thing to take care of while breastfeeding a litter is that all the "siblings" are able to feed themselves sufficiently. There is always a bully and a greedy, and a shy one. We try to monitor the situation without interfering too much. The simplest way is to weigh the puppies for the first 10 days, and then every 4 days, to make sure everyone is growing regularly and healthily.