Vegetarians and Bovines

The Four Stomachs

The Four Stomachs (Photo credit: benjamin_scott_florin)

Cow Rumen.

Now I am going to break down the different sections of a bovine stomach.  Starting with the rumen.  The rumen is the largest section of a bovine stomach and is responsible for most of the digestion.  Part of what helps with digestion are the billions of protozoa, bacteria, molds, and yeasts that reside in the rumen.  The bacteria and protozoa do most of the digestion for the cow.  Which is the reason why cattle can thrive on large amounts of roughage.  There are about 25 to 50 billion bacteria and 200 to 500 thousand protozoa in every milliliter (about 0.06 ounces) of rumen fluid.  These microorganisms also produce proteins including essential amino acids from the protein and nitrogen that the cow ingests.  The microorganisms digest the plant fiber and produce volatile fatty acids. These fatty acids are absorbed directly through the rumen wall and supply 60 to 80 % of the energy needed by the cow. Because the microbes can use nitrogen to make protein, cows can eat urea and other sources of non-protein nitrogen that would kill non-ruminants. The microbes also make vitamins B and C.  This makes it possible for the cow to eat a large variety of feeds made up of grass, hay, corn, brewers grains, corn stalks, silage, and even urea.  This is the reason why non-ruminants like canines, felines, and humans cannot thrive on vegetarian diets.

To see pictures of rumen and where it is located in the cow, watch my video at

One thought on “Vegetarians and Bovines

  1. Chief Dad says:

    All those Microbes sure do a good job, and the Milk tastes great!

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