Do Cows Really Have Four Stomachs?
Many people who’ve never been near a dairy farm have heard that cows have four stomachs. It’s one of the questions I get asked most often. The answer: Yes and no.
Cows technically only have one stomach, but it has four distinct compartments. 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 our cows’ stomachs?
Our 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.
Speaking of stomachs, check out our dairy recipes that are farm family favorites!
This post was originally published on May 10, 2010 and has been updated with new images.