Cows do not actually have multiple stomachs; rather they have one very large stomach with four distinct sections. These sections are named the reticulum, the omasum, the rumen and the abomasums and they each have a different function in the cow’s digestive process. The largest section of a cow’s stomach is the rumen. It is in this section that large amounts of undigested food begin to be digested and are stored before it is fully digested in the other parts of the cow’s stomach. So why do cow’s need these four section in their stomachs?
Why Does A Cow Have Four Distinct Stomach Sections?
Each part of the cow’s stomach has a very important function. As cows have a diet that consists of mainly roughage such as grass and bushes they need a stomach that can break it down effectively and can draw all the goodness from the grass to nourish the cow. When a cow eats grass it first enters the rumen. This is the largest section the cow’s stomach and it is from here that the grass is brought back up into the cow’s mouth to be re-chewed. This is what happens when a cow is chewing its cud.
The reticulum is the next section and in this section the cellulose in the grass is broken down into different acids by the microbes, such as fungi, bacteria, protozoa and yeasts, which live in this section of the stomach. These acids are used to supply energy to the cow. The “food” is then transferred in the omasum. The omasum absorbs the water and acids from the food for use by the cow. Finally the food is transferred into the final section the adomasum. It is here that the food is digested much the same way as our stomach digests food. The microbes from the rumen are digested and absorbed to provide the cow with amino acids and peptides.
Cow’s have four sections to their stomachs to enable them to digest and live on roughage without these four sections they would not be able to draw enough nutrients and minerals from the grass to survive.