What is a ruminant? If you are new to livestock or homesteading this might be a question you are asking. You might hear others throw this word around, but not really understand what it means. In this post I will explain exactly what a ruminant is so that you will know exactly what it means!

What is a Ruminant

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What is a Ruminant?

Growing up around animals this is a term that I have always been familiar with. However, if you did not grow up on a farm or around livestock you might be confused when this word is mentioned among other animal owners.

Ruminant refers to certain animals. Ruminants are mammals and include goats, cows, sheep, buffalo, deer, giraffes, etc., and any animal within these families. 

So what makes a ruminant a ruminant? To be considered a ruminant, you have to have a four chambered stomach. Now this does not mean four stomachs, it means four chambers within the stomach.

The four chambers of the stomach are called: 

1. Rumen

2. Reticulum 

3. Omasum

4. Abomasum

Most animals, as well as people, only have one chamber stomachs. We eat our food and it then digests. Ruminants on the other hand, eat their food, such as hay or grass, the food is then fermented and brought back up to be chewed again. 

The word ruminant means “to chew over again”.

What is a Ruminant?

The first two chambers, the rumen and the reticulum, are where the food is broken down via fermentation. It is then regurgitated and chewed again. The food that is regurgitated is called ‘cud’. This chewing again allows the food to be broken down into particle sized pieces which allows more nutrients to be absorbed from the food.

Once the food is broken down into small enough pieces it then passes to the omasum where more nutrients are absorbed. From the omasum it moves on to the abomasum which is also referred to as the ‘true stomach’. This chamber functions similarly to other animals that are not ruminants in that it releases acids and enzymes to fully break down the food before it moves on to the intestines.

And that is what a ruminant is! How fascinating and complex is that?! Without a four chambered stomach my goats wouldn’t be able to digest and utilize nutrients from their hay and forage. God knew exactly what these animals needed:)

So, I hope that helps you to better understand the word ruminant. Now, the next time you hear that word you will know exactly what it means!

If you would like to learn more about goats, which are ruminants, then be sure to read my Goat Care Section! It contains lots of info about these amazing animals!

And if you own goats or plan on owning goats be sure to take my FREE Goat Health Course!