The Cow Digestive System

By. Alyssa & Taylor

About Our System

The Function:

  • Digestive system- begins with the mouth and extends to the rectum.

  • Main purpose- uses digestive juices to breakdown and process the food for nutrients and vitamins for your body.

The Organs (In Order)


Carries food, liquids, and saliva from the mouth to the stomach.


It's the 1st part of the stomach, it receives food or cud from the esophagus, it partly digests it with the aid of bacteria, it breaks down the food particles with mechanical digestion, and it passes it to the reticulum.


It's the 2nd part of the stomach, its called the honeycomb because its honeycomb like structure is used to capture foreign objects that is found in the food received from the rumen, and passes to the omasum.


Its the 3rd part of the stomach, its very muscular, it uses those muscles to squeeze fluid out of the food, it also absorbs acids, and its found in between the reticulum and abomasum.


It's the 4th part of the stomach, it receives food from the omasum and passes it to the small intestine, and it also digests the food chemically.

Small Inestine:

A winding tube where digestion is competed and nutrients are absorbed by the blood, extends from the pylorus to the cecum and consists of the duodenum, jejunum, and the ileum.


Is a pouch tube like structure that receives undigested food material from the small intestine separated from the ileum and ileocecal valve, and it absorbs fluids and salts that remain after the completion of the intestinal digestion.

Large Intestine:

It extends from ileum to rectum, forming an arch around the convolution of the small intestine including the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal. It also absorbs water from the remaining indigestible food.


The final section of the large intestine and is also where waste is released from the body.

Some of the Processes


The liver and pancreas secrete materials through ducts into the duodenum which carries bile salts, a greenish fluid stored in liver, and is released into duodenum to digest fats.


It helps absorbs carbohydrates and proteins, and then coverts them into villi.


It helps absorb vitamin B12, bile salts, and other nutrients that aren't absorbed by the Jejunum.

Ileocaecal Value:

It helps prevent material from flowing back into the small intestine.

Care and Requiremants


  • Homeostasis is any-self regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optional for survival.

  • If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues.

Cattle Health

  • Cattle health and nutrition goes beyond taking care of the rumen microbes, reducing digestive problems and promoting a rumen with a healthy microbe population.

  • Cattle health and nutrition can prevent many serious problems in cattle.

  • Feeding cattle properly is a very important part of keeping hem healthy.

  • Cows have a very unique microbial population in their stomach that allowed them to digest parts of plants tat humans cannot.

Common Disorders


  • Is the inflammation of the GI (gastrointestinal tract) which is composed of stomach and intestines.

  • GI disease may be caused by many different types of bacteria, viruses, and intestines.

  • Symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis may include excessive salivation, vomiting, straining, and abdominal pain.

  • Viral pathogens that cause disease of the GI tract are highly contagious.


  • Toxemia (toxins in the blood) is caused by intestinal clostridial species resulting from the absorption of toxins produced by the bacteria within the intestines (enterotoxemia).

  • Symptoms of disease include vomiting, diarrhea, weigh gain, abdominal pain, sever headaches. change in reflexes, dizziness, and vision changes.

  • Clinical signs are more sever in young animals than in adults.


  • Nematodes (roundworms) are worms that commonly infect the GI tract of animals.

  • Species include trichostrongyles (hair worms) infect the stomach and intestines of ruminants.

  • Large numbers of roundworms in an animal's GI tract can affect the animal's health by causing a nutritional disturbance.

  • The roundworms also interfere with the digestion and cause blood loss in the animal.

  • Tapeworms are another type of helminth that infect the small intestines. But they do not result in clinical signs in the animal.

  • Cattle liver flukes are worms that cause inflammation (hepatitis) and scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver.

  • Clinical signs of digestive inefficiency are evident in young cattle with acute liver disease (hepatitis) and in older cattle with chronic liver disease (cirrhosis).

  • Cattle that live in wet areas wit alkaline soils may develop liver fluke infections.

Other GI Diseases

  • GI diseases by helminth (worm) parasites are not always apparent. But both clinical and sub-clinical diseases affect the health of the animal.

  • Clinically affected animals display obvious signs of disease such as anemia, diarrhea, and emaciation.

Interesting Info

  • Cows are ruminants, which are cud chewing mammals.

  • A cow chews its cud for up to 8 hours a day.

  • Contrary to popular belief, cows do not have 4 stomachs but 4 digestive compartments.

  • The rumen holds up to 50 gallons of digested food and helps digest the food and provides protein. This is where cud comes from.

  • The reticulum is called the hardware stomach because if cows accidentally eat hardware (Ex. fencing scrap), it will often lodge here causing no further damage.

  • The amasum is sort of like a filter.

  • The abomasum which is like the human stomach.