Your Journey into The Four Dimensions of a Cow‚Äôs Stomach
You unlock this barn door with the key of curiosity. Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound‚Ä¶..""MOOOOO‚Ä¶."".
A dimension of sight‚Ä¶.""Wow, that's a healthy looking cow!""
A dimension of mind...""Did she say 4 stomachs? Really?""
You're moving into a land of rolling green meadows and happiness. You've crossed into the COW ZONE!
The Cow Zone is not a scary place. At Reedy Fork, you'll find a lot of healthy cows happily chewing their cuds. Did you ever wonder how all that beautiful green grass is processed into a tall glass of delicious, organic milk or cheese? Let's take a tour!
A dairy cow weighs between 900 to 1400 pounds, and as you might expect, she needs to eat and drink a lot. The capacity of her four stomachs is somewhere between 50 and 70 gallons of food and water.
First Stomach: Paunch or Rumen
The cow is a very efficient eater. She tears off grass and swallows it half chewed. Now she has more time to graze since she doesn't have to chew slowly and digest her food. In the paunch or rumen, fluids soften her food, and once that happens, the softened food moves into the second stomach.
Second Stomach: Reticulum or Honeycomb Stomach
The walls of the second stomach resemble a honeycomb, and it's here that the food is softened even more. Now the food that the cow has taken in is formed into small balls or wads called a bolus or cud. Each bolus is about the size of a small hen egg.
At this point, the dairy cow is ready for the next stage of digestion. She gulps up the cud so that she can take her time, rest and chew the cud. For each egg-sized bolus or cud that comes back to her mouth, she chews it 40-60 times, for about one minute. Once she's chewed her cud and swallowed it again, the cud goes to the third stomach.
Third Stomach : Omasum or ""Many Plies""
Oval in shape, the omasum's inner part has close to 100 thin divisions that seem like the leaves of a book. The cud that's been thoroughly chewed and partially processed is sandwiched between the thin divisions so it can be broken up a bit more before it passes to the fourth stomach.
Fourth Stomach: Abomasum
This is what farmers call the ""true stomach"" because it's digested before it goes to the intestines. From here, the materials to make milk and keep the cow healthy are taken from what's digested. Most of it goes to the cow's milk bag or udder.
And then, it's milking time, which effectively mean your guided tour is over, and you're on your own. Will you choose a glass of cold organic milk, or a tasty bowl of healthy yogurt? Will you sample some ice cream, spread a bit of cream cheese on a bagel - or will you go for that gooey, warm mixture of organic cheese in the middle of ‚Ä¶. A CALzone!
At Reedy Fork, in addition to writing really bad puns, we enjoy helping you learn more about cows. And the next time you have a glass of tasty organic milk, you can remember your tour of the Cow Zone!
PS If you missed it, we recently posted about the cow's tongue. We told you we're fascinated with cows.!
Image courtesy of ChrisMeller and Flickr.