Monday, June 13, 2005

Chickens with reproductive attitude

This is not a medical story, but it is intriguing if you extrapolate this to how the human brain/body could make this kind of thing happen. Or maybe just another food production story for you....

Researchers report that they have discovered that chickens raised for meat can choose whether or not they will funnel the nutrients they eat towards themselves or their eggs.

Called 'reproductive attitude,' this points to hens that "partition" nutrients needed for egg production into their own bodies.

You don't think about chickens with this kind of know-how, but it makes you wonder why you are eating animals in the first place.

"They like to be a little bit more selfish with their nutrients, and continue growing," says Dr. Martin Zuidhof, at the University of Alberta, in a press statement. "It is not a conscious thing the bird does, but it does express a tendency of that bird to either be generous or to be selfish with its nutrients."

Now think about this: "The trouble with this is that these 'martyr birds' may eventually suffer from burnout when they don't balance their own needs well enough," says Dr. Rob Renema, a researcher in the Department of Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta.

Discovery of the exceptional "super-mom" birds that don't fit the textbook norm has opened new doors in the research program, the researchers say.


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