ZIMSEC O Level Integrated 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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