Describe the process of digestion in ruminants.
- Ruminants, such as cows and sheep, have a four-chambered stomach: the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.
- They consume food and swallow it into the rumen, where it is mixed with bacteria and other microorganisms.
- The microorganisms break down the food through fermentation, producing volatile fatty acids and gases, such as methane.
- The partially digested food, called the cud, is regurgitated and chewed again, to further break down the fibers and increase the surface area for digestion.
- The cud is then reswallowed and passes through the reticulum and omasum, where water and nutrients are absorbed.
- The remaining material enters the abomasum, which is similar to the stomach of monogastric animals, where it is further digested with enzymes and acids.
- The digested nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine and transported throughout the body for energy and growth.
- The waste products are eliminated as feces and urine.