Cornified Shoes

Cow Hooves (photo credit  Doug Powell)

Cow Hooves (photo credit Doug Powell)

Cow Hooves

Don't think I've forgotten about the larger animals.  Because, this week I'm writing about cow hooves.  Cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs are cloven-footed animals.  Meaning that the hoof consists of two digits instead of one solid entity like that of a horse. The two digits are analogous to the third and fourth fingers of the human hand. The claws are named by their relative location on the foot.  There is the outer or lateral claw and the inner or medial claw. In cattle, the lateral claw is slightly larger on the back feet, while the medial claw is the larger claw of their front feet.  The space between the two claws is called the interdigital clef; the area of skin is called the interdigital skin. The different surfaces of the claws are named according to their relative position to the interdigital cleft: The abaxial surface is the outer wall of each claw, and the axial surface is the inner wall.  The hoof is described from the outside moving in.  Beginning with the hard outer covering of the hoof, known as the hoof wall or horn.  The horn is a hard surface, structurally similar to the human fingernail, but functioning like the epidermis of the skin. The cells that form the horn are produced by the tissue directly beneath the hoof wall, called the corium, at the hoof head. The corium is a nutrient-rich tissue that contains many important blood vessels and nerves inside the hoof.  The corium is similar to the quick of the fingernail in humans in that it continuously produces new cells that are then gradually pushed away from the quick. As the cells are pushed away from the corium they die and produce the hard, new outer growth that we see both in our own nails and in hoof growth. At this point the cells are said to have been keratinized or cornified.  As a general rule, bovine hooves grow about 1/5 to ¼ of an inch per month.  Cow hooves also serve a purpose to humans also.  People have made them into soup, tools, and even shoes.  It’s not really my thing, but hey, creativity is good isn’t it?

To see real cow hoof shoes, among other things, click here to watch my video.

Interesting Absorption

Cow intestines, (photo credit,

Cow intestines, (photo credit,

Cow Intestines.

I’m back!  And none the worse for wear.  Today I’m here to talk about a very interesting subject, cow intestines.  A cow’s intestines are made up of three different organs.  The small intestine, the cecum, and the Large intestine.  The small intestine measures about 20 times the length of the animal. It is composed of three sections: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The small intestine also receives the secretions of the pancreas and the gallbladder, which aids digestion. Most of the digestive process is completed here, and many nutrients are absorbed through the villi (small finger-like projections) and into the blood and lymphatic systems.  The cecum is a large area located at the junction of the small and large intestine where some previously undigested fiber may be broken down. Although the complete function of the cecum has not been established.  And the large intestine is the last segment of the tract through which undigested feed passes. Some bacterial digestion of undigested feed occurs, but absorption of water is the primary digestive activity occurring in the large intestine.  Isn’t it interesting how long the intestines are?  Though I imagine that it takes a lot of work to break down and get nutrients from what a cow eats.

To see more cow intestine, click here to watch my video.

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.

Honeycombs and Hardware

Cow Stomachs.


Abomasum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is widely known that cattle have four stomachs, enabling them to consume grass and vegetation.  But, this statement is a little misleading and not quite accurate.  You see, cattle do not have “four stomachs” per se, instead they have one stomach with four compartments, the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum.  The rumen is the largest compartment and forms specialized microorganisms that assist in digesting recosumed cud.  Cud is the product of otherwise undigestible foods that are regurgitated, rechewed, and reswallowed.  The microbes in the rumen also synthesize amino acids from non protein nitrogenous sources, such as urea and ammonia.  As these microbes reproduce in the rumen, older generations die and their cells continue on through the digestive tract. These cells are then partially digested by the cattle, allowing them to gain a high-quality protein source. These features allow cattle to thrive on grasses and other vegetation unlike dogs, cats, and humans, who are forced to find their protein sources elsewhere.  While the omasum’s main function is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible food, and the abomasum functions like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the “true stomach”.  The reticulum, the smallest compartment, is known as the “honeycomb”. Cattle sometimes consume metal objects which are deposited in the reticulum, and irritation from the metal objects causes hardware disease. So in conclusion, cattle have a very sophisticated and convenient way to ingest and digest grasses and vegetation and still get all the nutrients that they need to survive and thrive.  

To see some more cow anatomy and a few different breeds of cattle, watch the video at

Camel Cream?

 Concerning Cows

Simmental cattle on alp pasture (Engstligenalp...

Simmental cattle on alp pasture (Engstligenalp, Switzerland) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cattle, colloquially referred to as cows, are domesticated ungulates, a member of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae. As they are prominent modern members of the subfamily Bovinae, and are the most widespread species of the Genus Bos, and are most commonly classified as Bos primigenius. Cattle are raised as livestock for meat (Beef and veal), as dairy animals for milk and other dairy products, and as draft animals (oxen) pulling carts, plows, and the like. Other products include leather or dung for manure or fuel. In some countries, such as India, cattle are sacred.   An estimated 1.3 billion cattle are in the world today. In 2009, cattle became the first livestock animal to have a fully mapped genome.  Cows are pretty useful. And without them we would be forced to eat things like sheep or camel milk ice cream.  Or even worse, before tractors were invented (or if you’re Amish) everyone without a horse would have to either plow their fields themselves or use a big dog or goat.  The luckiest might get a donkey or Shetland pony but what about the rest?