Reverse Peristalsis in Cows
A commonly asked question about ruminants (animals such as cows, sheep, dogs that can digest plant material) is can they vomit. Considering cows and sheep have four compartments to their stomachs; Rumen, Reticulum, Omasum, Abomasum, people started a rumor implying that cows cannot vomit. This is not completely true because it is possible for them too, just not common. Each of the cows’ four stomachs has a different, important purpose. The rumen, or the first stomach, is the largest of the four and is where the cow’s supply protein is created and gathered. The second chamber or the Reticulum acts as a screen in the cows’ digestion because it gets rid of all unwanted objects of the cows’ body such as wire fences and nails by having the stomach acids degrade it. This is also the part of the stomach where the cud comes back up to be chewed again. The Omasum does basically the same things as the Reticulum, except it blocks bad grasses and plants. The last part of the stomach is known as the Abomasum which is the most human like part of their stomach. This is the connection between the stomach and the intestines and is where all the cow’s essential nutrients from the grasses it eats are collected.
There are very few things that actually cause cows to vomit and it is extremely rare. Nervousness, excitement, pain, and no or low course fiber (does no dissolve in water, helps with digestion, making it necessary) in the diet. When cows are nervous or stressed the action of regurgitation, (when cows eat grass and bring it back up to be chewed again, making digestion easier) stops. This is because the cow gets rattled and it messes up the brains process on making the digestive tract work. If a cow is seen vomiting it is suggested they are taken to medical help as soon as possible.
Regurgitation is not to be confused with vomiting. Unlike vomiting in cows, regurgitation is an everyday eating process. Regurgitation is how the ruminant animals digest their food considering the diets of these animals is all plant based. Regurgitation is when a cow chews the plants, then swallows and it goes through the Rumen and Reticulum, but then is brought back up the esophagus to be chewed again. This process can last for hours and is very repetitive. In fact, 30-40 percent of a cows’ day is spent regurgitating cud (cud is the plant material AFTER its been brought back up the esophagus at least once)