Sunday, October 5, 2014

Four in One

Cows have, like seven stomachs, don't they? 

That was the question Pastor Z greeted me with when we shook hands at the end of today's worship service. I don't even remember how the conversation rolled around to that topic, but after giving him an abbreviated answer, I said, "That would make a great blog post!" So Pastor Z this one is for you 
(and anyone else who is curious).

Many people think cows have 4 stomachs, 
but they have one stomach with four compartments.

Parts of a cow’s stomach

  • Rumen – This is the first part of the cow’s stomach. It helps break down complex plant products like grass. This is the largest part and holds up to 50 gallons of partially digested food.  Good bacteria in the Rumen helps soften and digest the cow's food and provides protein for the cow. 
  • Reticulum – Here the food mixes with the cow’s saliva and produces cud. Cows burp up the cud into their mouths and chew it to help break it down more. Each cud returns to the cow's mouth and is chewed 40-60 times and then swallowed properly.
  • Omasum – Here all the water is absorbed out of the food.
  • Abomasum – Here is where the food is finally digested, similar to what happens in a human stomach. The food is digested by the cow's stomach juices, and essential nutrients that the cow needs are passed through the bloodstream. The rest is passed through to the intestines and comes out as well... you know...manure. 
So there you have it- 

1 stomach, 4 compartments

Way to go Pastor Z for keeping me on my toes. Next question please...

Speaking of stomachs... How about this to warm you up on a cool Fall day.

Thanks to Dairy Makes Sense for the recipe.

Cow stomach illustration thanks to Google image search.


  1. 50 lbs of food in they're stomachs? Man, it's a good thing I don't have that kind of capacity, because that would be a lot of Taco Bell to haul around.

    1. 50 pounds is a large capacity, and good thing cows don't like Taco Bell or we couldn't afford to feed them!