Hank's "Ranch Life" Series, Part 3

Wednesday, June 06, 2012 | By John R. Erickson

The Case of the Four Chambered Stomach (Warning: You're fixing to learn a lot about cows)

     Cows can survive on grass because they've got a special four chambered stomach that can digest it. Animals that live off of grass, such as your cattle, your goats and sheep and camels, are called ruminants, and fellers, they've got a very peculiar way of eating.

     They bite off grass with their teeth and swallow it whole, and it goes down to the chamber of the stomach called the rumen. Then—here comes the good part—then later on, they burp it back up and chew it and swallow it again.

     Have you ever seen a cow lying around in the afternoon, chewing on something? Well, she’s not chewing bubblegum. She's chewing her cud, which means that she's working on some of the grass she ate during the morning.

     I can guess what you're saying: "Ooo yuck! Oooo sick!"

     I agree. That would look pretty crude if you did it at the dinner table, but here's something for you to think about. If cows didn't go through all that business to digest grass, you wouldn't have any hamburgers to eat.

     That's right, pal. No burgers, no meatballs, no roast beef, no steak, no baloney sandwiches, and no hot dogs. All that good stuff comes from beef. Beef comes from cattle, and cattle come from grass.

     I'll bet you'd never thought of that. When you trace it back, a hamburger is made of grass, pure-dee old grass. So the next time you see a cow chewing her cud, be glad she's chewing the grass and you’re chewing the burger.

(...to be continued...)


Tags: Hank the Cowdog books, Ranching, Cattle
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