Why you can't give chickens milk

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by 2mnypets, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. 2mnypets

    2mnypets Songster

    Apr 11, 2007
    Galesburg, IL.
    This subject came up in another thread. I'm attempting to answer it here since I didn't want to highjack the other thread with an answer.

    The question was "why can you give chickens yogurt but not milk?" Here is the answer.

    Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the major sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance is caused by a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down the milk sugar into two simpler forms of sugar called glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Undigested lactose fermented by bacteria in the colon creates lactic acid and other fatty acids. Since the active cultures in yogurt (also known as probiotics) break down lactose naturally into lactase enzymes, there is no intolerance. I hope I didn't confuse anyone. If so just ask.
    1 person likes this.
  2. robin416

    robin416 Songster

    Feb 6, 2007
    This needs a sticky, best explanation I've ever read in terms that can be understood by everyone.
  3. MayberrySaint

    MayberrySaint Chillin' Out

    Mar 7, 2007
    Mount Airy, NC
  4. 2mnypets

    2mnypets Songster

    Apr 11, 2007
    Galesburg, IL.
    No problem...I knew that nursing degree would come in handy for something [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007
  5. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    They're not going to drop over dead if you give them milk, but if you give them too much it can cause diarrhea. Milk can also be used to help treat cocci.
  6. pattycake

    pattycake Songster

    May 7, 2007
    fingerlakes, ny
    I was reading a book about old farming practices, and it recommended giving chickens as much skim milk as possible. Which makes sense, since after making butter and cheese, skim milk was something of a waste product on farms. But if it gave them the trots...
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Is it really lactose intolerance if it doesn't give them terrible gas, upset stomachs, and explosive diarrhea? Doesn't it just mean they can't use the sugars from it :p
  8. WindyOaksYokes

    WindyOaksYokes Songster

    Jul 17, 2007
    Central Virginia
    2mnypets - Thank you! [​IMG]
  9. sunnychooks

    sunnychooks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    Goat milk is safe for chickens. I also give them the leftover whey from cheese making. It's probably OK for the same reasons that some people who are lactose intolerant can drink goat milk with no problems.
  10. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    yogurt is most useful in that it provides beneficial probiotics...
    Gordon A Chalmers, DVM
    ..."The presence of this lactose in the intestine can draw fluids from the bloodstream into the intestine, and may result in diarrhoea and dehydration .... E. coli on the other hand are known to be lactose fermenters, that is, they actually use lactose as a nutrient in their life processes. For this reason then, it is my opinion that the use of lactose when E. coli infections are occurring should be avoided because this sugar simply aids these organisms to thrive and multiply in great numbers. For this reason, I would NOT recommend that lactose be used in drinkers when birds are affected with adenovirus + E. coli infections, or to help prevent E. coli problems...... avoid the use of lactose when you are dealing with or trying to prevent E. coli problems....."

    ...as E.Coli is present in small amount (non-pathogenic) in the "natural" gut flora of the chicken, then it is extremely unwise in my view to give them any milk products which may aid in their overwhelming your bird at moments of stress and making them ill (E.Coli=Collibacillosis)
    ...be sure your yogurt is the live culture yogurt and not the pasteurized one:
    "In food products, the probiotics used are primarily species of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, or Streptococcus thermophilus.

    In the United States, yogurt is required to be produced by the fermentation by Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. However, post-fermentation heat treatment of yogurt, which kills all live cultures, is allowed. To help consumers distinguish between yogurts that contain live active cultures and those that do not, the National Yogurt Association established a "Live Active Culture" seal. The seal is available for use by any yogurt manufacturer on packaging and requires refrigerated yogurt to contain 108 viable lactic acid bacteria per gram at the time of manufacture. The seal also can be used on frozen yogurts containing 107 viable lactic acid bacteria per gram at time of manufacture. However, these counts do not differentiate probiotic bacteria from starter culture bacteria (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus), and therefore the seal is not useful in determining if adequate levels of added probiotic bacteria are present in a yogurt. The NYA is also currently petitioning the United States government to have the standard of identity of yogurt changed to require that the starter cultures be viable in the finished yogurt..."
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007

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