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.


  1. katy collis said,

    October 5, 2015 at 6:43 am

    I love the picture of the cow with 4 stomach compartments and would like to use this picture for a free educational resource with primary children. I superimposed a board game type path from the cows mouth to its exit point and called the game Splat. It’s about eating healthily – five a day etc. I wondered about copyright. Would I be able to share the game for free. I believe I need to obtain permission.

    • Farmer's Wife said,

      October 5, 2015 at 10:21 am

      sounds like a terrific project! Glad to see the creative approach.

      Sad to say, I’m not sure where “I” got the picture. You certainly have my permission but I’m not the “owner”.
      You might be able to google an image and then go directly to the site to get permission. There are many stock photo sites, that you can get free or almost free pics!

  2. glostartrade said,

    May 14, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Awesome pics and easily guide to cow internal system.

  3. Sruti said,

    December 15, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Amazing my teacher says it was fantastic

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