Domestic cows feed on grasses, stems, and other herbaceous plant material. An average cow can consume about 70kg of grass in an 8 hour day. Cows twist grasses around the tongue and cut them with their lower teeth. Domestic cows are ruminants. Ruminants have a special system of digestion which allows for the breakdown of the relatively indigestible plant material which they consume. Cows have a four chambered stomach including a rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Grass passes through the rumen where it is mixed with specialized bacteria. From the rumen it moves to the reticulum, where it is broken down further. The partly digested food, known as cud, is regurgitated and chewed. It is then swallowed and moves into the omasum and abomasum, where digestive enzymes break it down further and nutrients are absorbed. The process of digestion takes 70-100 hours, one of the slowest passage rates of all animals. This method of digestion permits ruminants to obtain the most nutrients possible from these plant materials.
(Rath 1998; Hindsaw 1993; Walker et al. 1975)
Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; wood, bark, or stems
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )