Cows are gum, meaning they spend most of their time grazing and chewing gum. But how is all this chewing enough to break the grass? It turned out that this is not the case, and they have a long process to grind the herb they were chewing even more into chewing gum. Read on to find out more about how many stomachs a cow has and why.
Parts of a cow stomach
It is said that cows have four stomachs. In fact, cows have a stomach with several compartments, which is very different from a human stomach. When they suck in the herb, it travels through the scar, then through the mesh, omasum, and finally through the abomasum. Let’s take a closer look at the functions of the cow’s stomach sections.
The first part of a cow’s stomach is the rumen. The rumen is full of bacteria and retains food, while the bacteria break down cellulose or fiber in plants that the cow has eaten. Only bacteria can break down cellulose during fermentation – similar to how yeast works. At the moment, food is not yet digested and is only partially broken down.
Unlike the human stomach, you will not find gastric juices here. If you watch a cow graze, you will notice that she is consuming a lot of grass, hay, or other plants. He does not chew his food like a horse, but instead chews it just enough to keep it moist and then swallows it whole. Food first enters the rumen until it is full. Due to the activity of bacteria, the rumen is very warm and the sides are soft.
There is a mesh behind the scar. This is where food comes in after the rumen, and it allows the cow to regurgitate food and begin doing what is called “chewing gum” to break the food into smaller pieces. The mesh also contains bacteria. With an average cow weight of 1,400 pounds, she spends six to eight hours a day eating and then another five to eight hours chewing gum.
After the net comes omasum. When the cow finishes chewing the gum, she swallows her food again and ends up in the omasum. It absorbs water and some nutrients that have already been broken down. In appearance, it has several thin folds of fabric, due to which it becomes hard.
Finally, there is the abomasum, in which food is actually digested. Abomasum is considered a “real” stomach for all ruminants, akin to the human stomach, as opposed to the foregut, in which fermentation takes place. It contains bile and stomach acid, but it may also contain some of the bacteria that the rumen used to break down cellulose, and it is also digested. Leftover food ends up in the intestines.
There are other differences between horse and cow digestion. If you look at horse and cow dung, there are still bits of grain or grass in the horse dung. They are not in cow dung, because the plant matter is broken down and digested to a much greater extent.
Why do cows have so many stomach parts?
The cow’s diet is herbivorous, that is, based on plant matter. We can say that his stomach specializes in the complete digestion of plant substances. Consider the digestive system of a ruminant herbivore, for example, from a cow to a horse, which is not a herbivore.
Herbivorous ruminants include goats, sheep, bison, buffalo, deer, gazelles, antelopes, and giraffes. All ruminant herbivores have stomachs that are divided into several parts and consist of the same four parts. And unlike many other mammals, it has a longer small intestine for further absorption of nutrients. Omnivores and carnivores have smaller small intestines that are suitable for incorporating and digesting meat in their diets.
The importance of digestive health in cows
Cows must chew gum to improve health and milk production. But for this she must be relaxed and comfortable, usually in a lying position. This activity encourages saliva to control the acidity level of the bacteria.
It is important for farmers not only to watch the cows chew gum, but also to feed the cows the correct diet with sufficient fiber and low moisture, carbohydrate and acidity. The correct acidity level of bacteria in the foregut allows bacteria to grow and function well in the rumen. Too low a level of acidity will slow down the growth of bacteria, and the cow will not be able to digest roughage and absorb the nutrients she normally receives from chewing gum. Lactic acid builds up and the cow’s immune system weakens.
Harmful bacteria also multiply, which can suddenly kill the cow. Too much acidity will lead to rumen erosion. If ulcers develop, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and infect the liver, causing abscesses. As you can imagine, digestive problems in cows and other ruminants are much more serious and manifest more quickly than in humans and other mammals.
It is customary to say that cows have several stomachs, but not how many and why. The reality is that they have stomachs with several parts, divided into four parts, including the foregut and the “real stomach”. Each part has a different function of digesting the grass and other plant matter that they chew. This is the main characteristic of ruminants.
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