Ruminant Digestive System
By Susan Schoenian
|Why are sheep always chewing? | |Sheep belong to the ruminant classification of animals. Ruminants are characterized by their "four" stomachs and "cud-chewing" behavior. The cud is a food bolus | |that has been regurgitated. | | |There are about 150 different ruminant species including cows, goats, | |[pic] |deer, buffalo, bison, giraffe, moose, and elk. Ruminant species can | |Awassi Ewe Chewing Her Cud |further be classified as grazers, browers, or intermediates. Grazers, | |Kazakhstan |such as sheep, cattle, and buffalo consume mostly lower quality grasses | | |while browsers such as moose and mule deer stay in the woods and eat | | |highly nutritious twigs and shrubs. Intermediates, such as goats and | | |white-tailed deer have nutritional requirements midway between grazers | | |and browsers. | | | |The primary difference between ruminants and simple-stomached animals, like people, dogs or pigs, is the presence of a four-compartment stomach that includes the| |rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Often, it is said that ruminants have "four" stomachs. Llamas and alpacas are "pseudo-ruminants" because they have a | |three-compartment stomach instead of four like ruminants. Horses are also not ruminants; however they have a "cecum" that performs a similar function as the cow | |or sheep's rumen. | |[pic] |The Ruminant Digestive System | | |The rumen occupies a large percentage of the abdominal cavity of the | | |ruminant animal. It is a large storage space for food that is quickly | | |consumed, then later regurgitated, re-chewed, and re-swallowed in a | | |process called cud-chewing. Rumination or cud-chewing occurs | | |predominantly when the animal is resting and not eating. Healthy mature | | |sheep will chew their cud for several hours each day. | |Capacities of the Digestive Tract |The rumen is also a large fermentation vat. It contains billions of...
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