How Many Stomachs Does A Cow Have?
Many people who’ve never been near a dairy farm have heard that cows have four stomachs. One of the most common questions dairy farmers are asked is “How many stomachs does a cow have?”
So, do cows really have four stomachs?
YES AND NO
Cows technically only have one stomach, but it has four distinct compartments made up of Rumen, Reticulum, Omasum and Abomasum. It is very different than a human stomach. That’s why people often say that cows have four stomachs.
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.
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. When you see a cow that looks like she is chomping on bubble gum, really she is chewing her cud.
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.
What exactly is it that goes into cows’ stomachs?
Cows are fed a mix of corn silage, hay silage, grain (corn), distillers grains, and soy bean meal. On our farm, we grow the corn, wheat and hay that goes into our cows’ feed.
Have you ever wondered how milk is produced? Or how long it takes for milk to get from farm to table? Take a Virtual Farm Tour of a Michigan Dairy Farm!