from The Heritage Farm…

Ruminations from The Heritage Farm… Something I do, as well as the cows on our farm, ruminate.

We started farming, with real live livestock, less than five years ago.  Turns out that cows are ruminate animals… they have four stomachs, each very specialized. They eat grass/forage and send it off to the first stomach where they have some handy little helpers known as “microbes” that begin to break down the cellulose in the food.  It’s just too tough for cows to digest by themselves.  Instead, they sit a spell… chewing their cud.

The first stomach, called the rumen, is a holding area where the microbes get started with their work.  Then, in a very “earthy” fashion, the cow coughs up a bit and chews it, over and over, until it is broken down enough to send it on to the other stomachs.  There the nutrients and energy are retrieved and utilized by the cow. It strikes me, in a strange fashion, that I also ruminate.

Often, I hear/read something that just doesn’t sit right.  I can’t take it at face value and send it on its way. It bugs the heck out of me.  Sits there like a big lump waiting to be dissected until the parts begin to make sense of the “whole”.   Instead I need to take some time and turn it over and over in my head until it begins to make sense, and make sense applied in the real world. I ruminate, break it down and work it over, until I can pull all the good stuff out of it and use it to make sense of the world unfolding around me.

chewing her cud

If you care to hear about some of the results of those “ruminations” check in occasionally,

or sign up for an email when something gets posted.  It might be interesting to share our thoughts,  as well!

It should be an interesting trip… and perhaps useful in a tangible way.

Rumination in action!

Before cows ruminate, they must first eat some food… hay, pasture, forage (leaves, stalks, etc).


Actually, cattle have one stomach with four compartments.

4 different compartments

Cow Stomach with 4 compartments

They are the rumenreticulumomasum, and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment.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.

The omasum’s main function is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible feed. The omasum is known as the “many plies”.

The abomasum is like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the “true stomach”.

Cattle are ruminants, meaning that they have a digestive system that allows use of otherwise indigestible foods by regurgitating and rechewing them as “cud”. The cud is then reswallowed and further digested by specialisedmicroorganisms in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids that cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel.

The microbes inside the rumen are also able to 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 carcasses continue on through the digestive tract. These carcasses are then partially digested by the cattle, allowing them to gain a high quality protein source.

These features allow cattle to thrive on grassesand other vegetation.

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