Ruminant Digestive System

Ruminants are a group of mammals that eat plants. These animals have four-chambered stomachs that help them to digest food. This specific process through which these animals extract nutrition from their food is known as rumination.

Example: Cow, Yak, Sheep, Giraffe, Goat, Bison, Deer, Buffalo, etc.

Rumination starts before the actual digestion process. These animals can ferment eaten food, regurgitate it, and again chew it through rumination. The digestion in ruminants is entirely different from the human digestive system. 

Usually, the digestion process starts from the mouth and continues to the food pipe, stomach, and intestine. However, the digestive system of ruminant animals is not the same.

Here is a Basic Idea of Ruminant Digestive System.

Ruminant animals are seen chewing their food most of the time, even when no foods available near them. This is a part of their digestive system. Ruminants chew and swallow their food during the initial stage of their digestion. The cow chewing process is called rumination.

These animals eat different parts of plants like leaves, grass, etc. These plant products contain high fibre which is hard to digest. Cellulose, an enzyme, helps in digesting these fibre contents. However, animals can’t produce this enzyme by themselves. Thus, these herbivores require a different system to digest plant products.

Rumen is one of the most important chambers among the four chambers of their stomach. The function of the rumen in ruminant animals helps these animals to digest the high fibre content in their food. So, the rumen function in animals is the most important function to complete their digestive system.

Digestive Tract of Ruminant

It is important to know the digestive tract of ruminants to explain the process of digestion in ruminants. The digestive tract of ruminant includes the following organs-

  • Mouth.

  • Esophagus.

  • A four-chambered stomach – rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasums.

  • The small and large intestine.

Test Your Knowledge

1. What is the Structure of a Ruminant Stomach?

a. 2-chambered.

b. 3-chambered.

c. 4-chambered.

d. single-chambered.

Ans. c. 4-chambered. The four chambers of the ruminant stomach are the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasums. 


2. Tiger and Cow are Examples of Ruminants. Is it Correct?

Ans. No. The correct two examples of ruminants can be cows and sheep.


3. What are Ruminant Animals?

Ans. Ruminant animals are those who consume plant products as food.

Process of Digestion in Ruminants

The ruminant digestive system starts by chewing and gulping food. These animals don’t chew their food completely. They consume the maximum amount of food possible and swallow it. Ruminants have adopted this process to save themselves from predator attacks while collecting food. 

Rumen and reticulum, two chambers of their stomach, start the digestion process by softening the consumed food. After that, microbes in the rumen produce an enzyme called cellulase. This enzyme helps in digesting cellulose present in plant products.

This way, all the nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, organic acids, etc. are absorbed by the animals into their bloodstream. However, coarse plants those remain to be digested move to the further chamber for further breakdown. In this chamber, the food transforms into chunks known as cud.

This cud is transferred back to the mouth of ruminants for regurgitation. In this process, these animals again start chewing cud. Ruminants’ saliva helps accelerate digestion process. Once the chewing process is completed, food enters the omasum bypassing first two chambers of stomach. 

In this chamber, the food is further processed and passed to the last chamber called abomasums. After completing the final digestion, this chamber passes the food to the intestine. 

If you want to learn more about ruminant digestive system, or about any other topic of biology, go through the course materials available in our website today. You can also download the Vedantu app for further materials about the ruminant digestive system. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How Does Digestion Take Place in Ruminants?

Ans. The digestion occurs in ruminants through the rumination process.

2. How is Digestion Different in Humans from that of Ruminants?

Ans. In humans, digestion starts from the mouth by chewing the food, and then it passes through the food pipe and reaches the stomach. After extracting the nutrients, the food enters the intestine. But in ruminants, the half-digested food comes back to the mouth for regurgitation and then enters a different chamber of the stomach for further digestion.

3. How Do They Digest Cellulose?

Ans. There are microbes present in rumen. These microbes create an enzyme that helps these animals to digest cellulose.