Anatomy And Physiology Of Farm Animals | Ruminant & Non-Ruminant

Digestive System And Digestion The digestive system of farm animals encompasses all the organs and tissues involved in breaking down or digesting food within the body. It includes the teeth or beak, tongue, alimentary canal or digestive tract, and all associated glands that secrete enzymes and other body fluids.   Digestion is the process of […]

Digestive System And Digestion

The digestive system of farm animals encompasses all the organs and tissues involved in breaking down or digesting food within the body. It includes the teeth or beak, tongue, alimentary canal or digestive tract, and all associated glands that secrete enzymes and other body fluids.


Digestion is the process of breaking down food substances in the digestive tract into absorbable forms. This process begins in the mouth with mastication, which increases the surface area and allows microbes quicker access to act on the food substances. Farm animals are categorized into two main classes based on the nature of the alimentary canal or digestive tract: polygastric (ruminant) animals and monogastric (non-ruminant) animals.


Digestion In Ruminant Animals

Ruminant animals possess a complex stomach with four compartments: rumen (paunch), reticulum or fore stomach (honeycomb), omasum (the fardel, manyplies, or psalterium), and abomasum (true stomach). These animals can ruminate or chew cud. Examples of farm animals with this stomach compartment include cattle, sheep, and goats.


For instance, cattle, when feeding, gather a quantity of grass with their tongues, grip it firmly between the upper and lower jaws, jerk their heads, and swallow the grass. The grass then passes through the esophagus into the rumen, where bacterial digestion of cellulose takes place.


When the rumen is filled, the cattle lies down quietly, and through anti-peristaltic movement, undigested grass or cud passes from the rumen to the reticulum. From there, it goes back to the esophagus and mouth to be regurgitated and re-chewed. The food is properly chewed into a semi-liquid cud with the premolars and molars, which is then re-swallowed. The cud moves into the omasum and then into the abomasum, where gastric juice containing digestive enzymes is secreted into the semi-digested food to form chyme. The chyme moves into the small intestine through the duodenum, where further digestion and absorption occur. The undigested material is expelled through the anus as dung.


Digestion In Non-Ruminant Animals

Non-ruminant animals have a simpler, single-compartment stomach, and they do not ruminate or chew cud. Examples include pigs and poultry. Pigs, for example, have a simple stomach and feed mainly on basal feeds like maize and cassava. Digestion of food takes place in various areas of the tract.


In the mouth, food is mixed with saliva containing the enzyme Ptyalin, which converts starch to maltose. The food (bolus) is then swallowed and moved by peristaltic movement to the stomach. In the stomach, enzymes like pepsin and rennin are present, acting on milk and converting protein to peptones. The resulting thick liquid (chyme) passes to the duodenum.


At the duodenum, the pancreas secretes pancreatic juice with digestive enzymes, such as amylase, lipase, and trypsinogen. Bile aids in the emulsification of fats. Further digestion and absorption of nutrients occur in the small intestine, where additional enzymes are secreted.


Digestion In Poultry Birds

Poultry birds, like domestic fowl, have a monogastric digestive system with a simple stomach. The food, picked up by the beak, passes through the oesophagus to the crop, where it is temporarily stored, moistened, and fermented by bacteria. The food then moves to the proventriculus (glandular stomach), where digestive juices like pepsin and amylase are secreted. From the proventriculus, the food moves to the gizzard for grinding before reaching the small intestine for further digestion and absorption. Undigested materials are expelled as faeces.


Differences Between Monogastric And Polygastric Animals


    1. Cannot ruminate or chew cud.
    2. Feed is mainly basal and concentrated.
    3. Possess one stomach compartment.
    4. Cannot digest cellulose and fiber properly.
    5. Digestion is not aided by bacteria.
    6. Cannot synthesize their own protein.



  1. Can ruminate or chew cud.
  2. Feed is mainly grasses and other cellulose.
  3. Possess four stomach compartments.
  4. Can digest cellulose and fiber very well.
  5. Digestion is aided by bacteria.
  6. Can synthesize their own protein.


Circulatory System

The circulatory system comprises all the tissues and organs involved in transporting materials through the blood in farm animals. Farm animals have a closed circulatory system, where oxygenated and deoxygenated blood does not mix. The system displays a pattern of double circulation or single circulation. The circulatory system has three main divisions: the blood, the blood vessels, and the heart.


The Blood

Mammalian blood is composed of plasma and blood cells, including red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leucocytes), and blood platelets (thrombocytes). Each type of blood cell has specific functions contributing to the overall maintenance of the body.


Functions of the blood include maintaining body temperature, carrying oxygen through red blood cells, transporting hormones, removing metabolic waste, defending the body against germs, aiding in blood clotting through platelets, and transporting digested food to cells.


The Blood Vessels

Blood vessels form a network that moves materials through the body with the aid of blood. There are three major types of blood vessels: arteries, veins, and capillaries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart, veins carry blood back to the heart, and capillaries are tiny blood vessels around tissues and organs where arteries and veins meet.


The Heart

The heart, a muscular organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, exhibits a pattern of double circulation. It consists of four chambers: the upper auricles (right and left) and the lower ventricles (right and left). The heart’s action involves pumping blood twice, first to the lungs for oxygenation and then back to the rest of the body.


Reproductive System Of Farm Animals

Reproduction is the biological process that gives rise to new organisms from their parent, ensuring the continuity of life. Farm animals reproduce sexually, with most being viviparous. The reproductive system includes all the organs and tissues concerned with reproduction in animals.


Male Reproductive System

The male reproductive system includes testes, which produce spermatozoa and the sex hormone testosterone. Spermatogenesis occurs in the testes, and the sperm cells are stored and matured in the epididymis. The vas deferens transports sperm from the testes to the uterus masculinus, where mature spermatozoa are stored until mating. Accessory glands produce fluids that, along with spermatozoa, form semen. The urethra serves as both a uro-genital organ and the channel for injecting sperm into the vagina.


Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system consist of a pair of ovaries that produces egg cells or ova and fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs an which transports the fertilized ovum to the uterus. The uterus is the place in the female reproductive system where the growth of foetus takes place. The cervix separates the uterus from the vagina or birth canal. The entire system ends with the vulva (labia majora and minora) to the external.


Vagina is a fibro muscular tube of 7.5 to 10cm in length, situated anterior to the rectum and anal canal and posterior to the bladder and urethra. It is the organ of copulation, deposition of semen, and exit from uterus during parturition. The accessory organ of the female reproductive system includes outermost portion of the vagina (vestibule). The cowper’s glands also called bartholin’s gland is 1.5 to 2.0cm in length located above the perineal gland. It secretes mucus to provide vaginal lubrication.

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