Moo-natomy: The Biology of a Cow

Cow anatomy
From Milk: From Cow to Carton

    The cow has four stomachs and undergoes a special digestive process to break down the tough and coarse food it eats. When the cow first eats, it chews the food just enough to swallow it. The unchewed food travels to the first two stomachs, the rumen and the reticulum, where it is stored until later. When the cow is full from this eating process, she rests. Later, the cow coughs up bits of the unchewed food called cud and chews it completely this time before swallowing it again. The cud then goes to the third and fourth stomachs, the omasum and abomasum, where it is fully digested. Some of this digested food enters the bloodstream and travels to a bag called the udder, where it is made into milk that will come out of her teats, while the rest goes towards the cow's nourishment.

Moo Wonder icon Moo Wonders
  • In a day, a cow spends about 6.5 hours eating and drinking all of her food. Think about what you can do in that much time.

Assignment: You just read about the dairy cow's digestive process. In the picture above, can you guess where the four stomachs and the udder are? Click on the picture to see if you are correct!

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