What are the peculiarities of the digestive process of ruminant species?
There are millions of microbes within the rumen of cattle with food being mechanically processed via chewing and digestion being carried out by the gastrointestinal microflora. The ruminant digestive system is designed to ferment feedstuffs as well as provide a source of energy for the animal to use for basic body functions such as breathing and urinating.
- The role of sodium within cattle
- Na is the principle cation within the extracellular fluid of ruminants and has a major role in the following processes;
- Regulation of osmotic pressure.
- Acid-base balance.
- Maintenance of membrane potentials.
- Transmission of nerve impulses.
- Required for the growth of rumen bacteria.
- The role of saliva in the digestion process
There is a combination of Na, potassium (K), phosphate (P), bicarbonate (HC03) and urea (CO(NH₂)₂) within saliva and when mixed with feedstuff will form a bolus which is carried (via contractions of the esophagus) to the reticulum. Cattle will regurgitate food if necessary allowing a process of rumination to occur. This is when the feedstuff is reintroduced to the mouth, and further chewing and mixing with saliva is performed before, again, being passed to the reticulum and then onto the rumen for fermentation. Solid particles will typically stay within the rumen, and the liquid will then pass through to the omasum and the abomasum. The solid portion within the rumen will be broken down by microbes and converted into energy.