What is cud, and why do cattle chew it?

December 20, 2013

Have you ever noticed that when you see a cow it always seems to be chewing something? The reason is because cows must chew their food twice in order to digest it properly.

Cows spend nearly eight hours out of every day chewing their cud. This plus normal chewing of food can total upwards of 40,000 jaw movements per day.

Cattle are ruminant animals, this means their stomach contains four compartments:

1.     Rumen

2.     Reticulum

3.    Omasum

4.    Abomasum

Cows have one stomach with four different compartments.

When a cow first takes a bite, it chews just enough to moisten the food. Once swallowed, the food goes into the first section, the rumen, where it mixes with other acidic digestive liquids and is softened. The softened food is called cud, small balls of food.

Next, the rumen muscles send the cud back up to the cow’s mouth, where it is re-chewed and swallowed again, this time going to the Omasum section of stomach in order to squeeze out all of the moisture.

Finally, the food enters the last part, Abomasum of the stomach where it mixes with digestive juices and makes its way to the intestine to be completely digested.

Cud chewing is often used as an indicator of a healthy and comfortable herd. A happy, healthy animal will produce more milk or have a higher production of muscle.

Animals who do not chew their cud properly may be scared or have digestive issues such as twisted stomachs or a displaced abomasum, their fourth section of stomach. Feeding high quality forages will help to ensure the cows are digesting and chewing their cud properly.

Since cattle are “flight” animals meaning they run from danger, they don’t fight back; it is thought that the original reason for the double digestion was to let the animal eat as much as they could before needing to flee the area. Then they would bring the forage back up to properly digest it at a later, safer time. Cud chewing is also necessary because the foods ruminant animals eat are difficult to digest and it takes extra effort to get all of the nutrients from the food.

Other examples of ruminant animals include deer, camels, buffalo, goats, sheep and giraffes.

Comments

wow.
What I don't understand is how the cow's re-chewed cud goes to the Omasum section of the stomach. How does the cud not just go back to the rumen? Does their body just "know"?
I'm not sure.. But I believe you forgot to mention the second part of the stomach.. The reticulum, and what is it's function or role in the process?
Since cattle are “flight” animals meaning they run from danger, they don’t fight back; it is thought that the original reason for the double digestion was to let the animal eat as much as they could before needing to flee the area. http://www.signetonavenir.org/
How does an animal survive a dropped cud?
You never mentioned the second stomach (reticulum) or what it does
Nice!
How does the cow differentiate between food and cud to know where to go after swallowing? Is it involuntary?
Thank you, that was so very clearly explained. I've been watching shows about veterinarians with my kids. One wants to be a vet one day and asked about what is it that happens to the stomach that the vet sometimes have to roll the cow over and stitch it's stomach to the back wall and I couldn't really explain. After I read this page I was able to explain it much better, a little more to my kids' satisfaction, thank you very much!
I was suggested this blog through my cousin. I'm not positive whether or not this submit is written by him as nobody else know such specific about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks!
I was always interested in cows to me they are fascinating animals and always interested in how they gave milk even though I hate milk and rarely drink it... I am still interested
very informative and straight to the point , thank you. I am researching healthy eating God's way !!
Keep this going please, great job!
Well that answered me & my sons questions to the "T"! LOL. T.Y
Amazing. However I noticed that you skipped the Reticulum, saying that after the Rumen sent it back up where it is re-chewed and swallowed again, this time going to the Omasum section
I don't know anything about the four stomach "system" but as I was reading this article I don't see the process of the food/cud going through the reticulum portion of the process?? Could you please clarify? Thank you.
Goood post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It's always heloful to read through articles from other writers and use something from their sites.

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