Digestion in Ruminants

We all know that living beings cannot sustain themselves without food. Their nutrition and digestion are also co-related and important for our bodies. The food that we eat has numerous nutritional values which go into our body and helps in the body's functioning and increases our body's performance and capacity. This nutrition reaches our body once it is digested. This is done by the digestive system present inside each one of our bodies. Similar to the human body, animals also need various nutrients for their development. They have various nutritional requirements that need to be met, and if they are not supplied to them, they will fall weak. There are some nutrients that are easier to digest, whereas there are some nutrients that are extremely complex in nature and also in the digestive process. These complex substances need to be fragmented into simpler substances for the body to absorb the nutrients. This process is known as the process of digestion. 

Every living being has varying digestive capacity. Every organism consumes this food in a different way. For example, hummingbirds and bees are known to consume the nectar from flowers by sucking on it; snakes completely swallow the animals they prey on, fishes consume food particles that float on the surface of the water. The digestive system is made up of several varying organs. 

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The Process of Digestion

The food that we humans consume is digested using the digestive system, which is well organized and distinguishable in us humans. Every human eats the food by placing it in the mouth, chewing on it, and swallowing it. This food that is swallowed then makes its way to the oesophagus also commonly known as the food pipe through the pharynx, and then reaches the stomach finally. Once it reaches the stomach, the food which is composed of complex substances is broken down into simpler substances with the assistance of secreting digestive juices and then results in the nutrients being absorbed into the body. The food which remains undigested then enters the small and large intestine, where it is broken down further and is absorbed. The undesired waste is removed from the body by moving it to the rectum and finally out of our body, which is known as excretion. 

The Process of Digestion in Ruminants

So what are ruminants? Ruminants are the animals that feed on grass. Cows, goats, buffaloes are examples of such animals who are known as ruminants. These animals have a sac-like formation known as the rumen and swallow the grass fast. The rumen is known as the first stomach, and within it has four compartments. Food is digested in a partial way here, and this is known as the cud. Plants have high quantities of cellulose. Now, cellulose has a complicated formation, which is then turned into smaller, simpler substances in the rumen. There are times when cud goes back to the mouth in lumps, which are small in size. This is done for the ruminants to chew them back again. This process is known as the process of digestion in ruminants

Rumen Digestive System

The process of rumination is assisted by the presence of bacteria in the rumen, which then breaks down the cellulose that exists in plants. The food which is digested is then moved to the reticulum. There are some animals who cannot digest cellulose owing to the complicated components present in it. Even we humans cannot digest cellulose for the very same reason. 

There are some animals who have this huge sac shaped formation known as the caecum. This caecum is present in a position that lies between the oesophagus also known as the food pipe and the small intestine. The cellulose that is present within the food is digested with the assistance of the bacteria that is present. We humans do not possess this sac-like caecum. The perfect examples of animals who possess such a sac-like structure are horses and rabbits. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are The Physiological Features of Ruminants?

The animals, which are known as ruminants, have many physiological features that make them distinguishable and also ensures their survival in nature. One such feature of ruminants is their teeth, which keep on growing. The silica component that is present in forage leads to corrosion of their teeth when they graze. This corrosion of their teeth is made up of by their ability to constantly grow their teeth. This continuous teeth growing happens throughout the life of a ruminant. This is not found in humans or other animals who don't fall under the category of ruminants. Our teeth stop growing once we reach a certain point in our lives. In most ruminants, the upper incisors are missing, whereas; there is a thick dental pad to compensate for it and to help chew the plant-based food properly.

2. What are The Other Ruminant Digestive System Parts and Functions?

  • The Omasum

The omasum is a formation that is structured in the shape of a globe and has leaves of tissues that resemble pages of a book. The function of this omasum is to help in the absorption of water and also other digestive substances that are found from digestive contents. The feed material that is found between the leaves of this omasum is known as ingesta and is generally drier in nature than the ingesta that is located in the other compartments. 

  • The Abomasum

The abomasum, on the other hand, is the only compartment that is lined with glands. These glands help in the secretion of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, which are required for the breakdown of the food. The abomasum is remarkably similar to the stomach in a non-ruminant being.