Cows. Image credit creativeblogs.net

Cows. Image credit creativeblogs.net

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Digestive systems of cows and rabbits

  • Cows and rabbits are examples of herbivores.
  • They feed on plants e.g. grass and leaves.
  • Pant structures contain a large amount of cellulose which cannot be digested easily.
  • Cellulose is a fibrous carbohydrate.
  • Much of the food value is trapped inside plant cells by cellulose.
  • Both cows and rabbits have special organs in their digestive systems that help with cellulose digestion.
  • They rely on bacteria to help with their digestion process.
  • Although humans have bacteria help in their alimentary canals,
  • it is not to the same extent

The digestive system of a cow.

The digestive system of a cow. Image credit umn.edu

The digestive system of a cow. Image credit umn.edu

  • A cow’s stomach has four sections.
  • One of these is called the rumen.
  • Cows are thus often referred to as rumens.
  • A cow ingests grass which passes down the oesophagus into the rumen.
  • Inside the rumen there is a lot of bacteria which digest the cellulose for the cow.
  • This process of bacterial digestion is called bacterial fermentation.
  • After the grass has been partly broken down by the bacteria,
  • The cow passes the cud (food) back up into the mouth to be chewed again before being swallowed a second time.
A cow chewing cud. Image credit shutterstock.com

A cow chewing cud. Image credit shutterstock.com

  • When the food is swallowed for the second time it passes into other sections of the stomach,
  • then into the rest of the digestive system.

Rabbits

Baby rabbit. Image credit funmozar.com

Baby rabbit. Image credit funmozar.com

  • In rabbits the caecum starts where the small and large intestines join.
  • This is a large structure that contains a lot of bacteria to ferment the grass when it is eaten.
The digestive system of a rabbit. Image credit justrabbits.com

The digestive system of a rabbit. Image credit justrabbits.com

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.


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