I’m sure you have wondered how in the world cows digest all of those crazy things they eat. Well it’s actually a pretty cool story because cows have an amazing stomach. Well actually, they have four compartments to their stomach!
The rumen is the first compartment that food goes into and it’s also the largest compartment. Before the food can leave here, it has to be a maximum size. If you see a cow “chewing her bubble gum”, she’s actually chewing what we call cud. This cud is pieces of her feed that didn’t get chewed into small enough pieces to move to her next compartment. A cow can regurgitate those longer pieces and chew them more and send them back down into the rumen to move on.
The reticulum is the second compartment and it’s is the smallest. The reticulum is actually known as the honeycomb because it has a raised honeycomb pattern on the outside of the wall.
Omasum is the third compartment a cow has. The purpose is to take some of the water and nutrients out of the feed that has made it to this point. The nutrients are the most digestible and are the easiest to extract. It’s called many plies because it has so many grooves and creases to increase surface area and absorption.
The “true stomach” is known as the abomasum. It is the true stomach because it functions similarly to the human stomach. It finishes breaking down the feed and then sends it onto the small intestine to get absorbed.