The Last Ride

Large Animal Removal and Disposal


Exploring Cow Digestion

Have you ever heard of a ruminant? While you may not be familiar with that term, you are certainly familiar with many examples of rudiments. Cows, for example, are rudiments, as are sheep and camels.

Simply put, a rudiment is a term used to classify mammals at chew cud, which is regurgitated, partially digested food. You may be surprised to learn that, not only do cows chew on cud, but they can chew on it for up to 8 hours per day!

You may also have heard that cows have four stomachs, but this technically is not true. Rather, cows have four digestive compartments. One of these compartments, the rumen, holds up to 50 gallons of partially digested food. This is where the cud comes from. Bacteria in the rumen helps to digest the food and provide protein for the cow. The reticulum Is another one of these compartments. It is referred to as the “hardware stomach” because it is where indigestible items will lodge themselves so they do not cause further damage. Another compartment is the omasum, which is a sort of filter, and the fourth compartment is the abomasum, which is the compartment that is the most similar to the human stomach.

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Cows in the United States: A Brief History

Did you know that the first cow arrived in the United States when settlers from the Jamestown colony brought cows with them in 1611? Since then, cows have become an important part of our agriculture in the United States, but they were once even a regular part of the family home. In fact, until the 1850s, nearly every family had its own cow for producing milk for the homestead.

Regular shipments of milk by railroad also begin in 1841, with shipments taking place between Orange County, New York and New York City. By 1856, Gail Borden had invented the condensed milk process, which removed water from the milk in order to take up less space. Refrigeration of milk did not occur until 1880 and the first pasteurizing machine wasn’t introduced until 1895. 

Over the years, the process of dairying has improved greatly. In fact, just one of today’s cows can produce as much milk as it once took ten cows to produce! Nonetheless, it still takes more than 9 million cows and more than 100,000 farms throughout the United States to produce the amount of milk that is consumed. More than 99 percent of these farms are family owned and operated. 

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