Cows and Configurations


English: Dental pad of domestic livestock. Not...

English: Dental pad of domestic livestock. Note the lack of upper incisors and canine teeth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Cow Mouths


This week we’ll be looking at cow mouths.  Cows have 32 teeth. They have 6 incisors and 2 canines on the bottom. The canines are not pointed, but look like incisors.  Also, there are no incisors on the top; instead cattle have a dental pad. Cows have 6 premolars and 6 molars on  both top and bottom jaws for a total of 24 molars. In addition, there is a large gap between the incisors and molars.  This configuration allows cattle to harvest and masticate large amounts of fibrous feed.  Because their teeth are primarily for grinding, cattle use their tongues to grasp or gather grass and then pinch it off between their incisors and dental pad. Since they lack upper incisors, cattle cannot bite off grass very well, and they are inefficient at grazing closely. The inside of the cheeks and palate are rough which helps hold feed in while cattle chew with a side to side motion.  In addition to reducing the size of feed particles, the mouth aids in digestion by adding saliva to the feed.  Cows will produce 20-35 gallons of saliva a day. The saliva helps moisten the feed. Saliva also contains sodium bicarbonate to keep the rumen at the proper neutral pH (6.5-7.2) for good microbial growth. Much of the water contained in saliva is then recycled by the cow.   In conclusion, compared to horses or humans, cows do not have the best mouth configuration.  But, it does serve them well.

To watch my video, click here.

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