how does a cow's stomach work why does a cow chew its cud science land animals farm 3rd

How does a cow’s stomach work?

As a kid I always heard “A cow chews its’ cud,” but I never really knew how a cow’s stomach works Thankfully, after becoming a homeschool Mom and teaching homeschool science lessons I can finally answer this pressing question as part of our land animals science unit (if you’re doing a multi-age farm unit this would be great to add in).

how does a cow's stomach work

I’m sure YOU’VE been sitting there on the edge of your seat for years wondering about.

As with most lessons, we started with a book.

This is the chapter Superman’s been waiting for all year long: the COW chapter.  Okay, the entire chapter isn’t about cows, but enough of it was to make him happy.

After reading the Apologia Land Animals book*, I don’t think the kids quite understood how does a cow’s stomach work, obviously this needed to be solved.

So, I set up the card table downstairs, dug out the glitter glue, and proceeded to answer the question: how does a cow’s stomach work?

how does a cow's stomach work preparing paper

First I drew up four cows with their digestive system, if I’d planned further ahead than say 2 minutes, I would have drawn one and then scanned it to share with y’all, it’s awesome quality……  That didn’t happen.  Then the kids happily colored the non-digestive system parts.

parts of a cow's stomach

Then we colored and labeled the different chambers of the cow’s stomach.  I had to restrain the kids from coloring more than I did.  You’ll see why it was necessary in a moment.


Then we got to glitter-gluing* the steps involved.  We ran out of room in the esophagus as the glitter glue was a bit wider than we planned, and we couldn’t fit all the times the food went up and down.

how does a cow's stomach work first pass of food

And here’s the end result.  The cow chews the food and swallows it.  There it passes through the first and second chambers before heading back up to be chewed on some more.

how does a cow's stomach work second pass

Then the cow swallows the grass again (called cud once it’s been chewed and swallowed).  The cud passes through the third and fourth chambers to finish digesting.  It’s hard to tell, but there are actually 3 separate lines going through the esophagus as the food would pass back and forth.

how does a cow's stomach work final pass

Finally the fully digested food heads down into the intestines where the food is absorbed.  The kids were quite fascinated to learn that the food travels through the intestines and whatever is left becomes poop.  Yeah, so that little bit you see at the bottom there is Superman adding poop from his cow…….

Fell free to say “ewwwwww” I certainly did.

And that is our lesson on: how does a cow’s stomach work.

But, I was also amused because all of the lines on his cow are blood vessels.  I guess I better start organizing my anatomy board……..

If you want some more land animals idea, check out my land animals pinterest board.


Why does a cow chew its cud science lesson

Let’s see what others did this week:

Hi! Future Ticia 2023 here, I used to host a linkie called Science Sunday, and I would highlight posts from blogs that linked up. I’m leaving the posts that were a thing, but deleting the posts from blogs that no longer exist.

Each week I’m spotlighting a few posts that were shared previously.  Many posts get linked up later in the week and they don’t always get as many clicks as they deserve, so I’m trying to spotlight a few every week.

Life with Moore Babies shared a fun pumpkin growing experiment.  I am SOOOOO doing this when we hit botany, or maybe sooner.

Hmmm, only one of them still existed. Sadly so many blogs have gone away.


13 responses to “How does a cow’s stomach work?”

  1. Thanks for hosting and sharing our Pumpkins! Do you have a veterinary teaching hospital near you? I know the one I went to had an open house every year where they brought in a cow that had a cannula into its rumen, so you could stick your hand inside (with a glove on of course). It was pretty need to feel how it moved everything around, and also very stinky at the same time!

    1. Hmmmm…… I know there’s a big animal hospital about an hour or so South of us….. I might need to check into that.

  2. What no picture of mine? {just kidding} Your cow digestive system lesson is quite impressive. I read it aloud to everyone here and we all enjoyed it.

  3. Lula B Avatar
    Lula B

    I had always wondered how the four stomachs thing worked – thanks! (Anything that can be learned, can be learned with glitter glue.)

  4. love the pictures the kids draw. Very well put together. Now I have something to talk about with son about cow.

  5. You do realise you are effectively giving online lessons to all your readers and not just your children? Great lesson, I only wish I’d been their to join in with the glitter glue!!

  6. This is a cool lesson! Love detailed anatomical drawings 🙂 Sorry I’ve been so MIA lately – work has been totally brutal. Hopefully it’s better from now on!

  7. […] Linking up with Science Sunday @ Adventures in Mommydom! […]

  8. maryanne @ mama smiles Avatar
    maryanne @ mama smiles

    I am impressed by your cow drawing ability!

  9. Andrea @ No Doubt Learning Avatar
    Andrea @ No Doubt Learning

    Great lesson idea! My 4 year old daughter LOVES cows. She’s been mooing for almost 2 years…(ugh). I’m sure she’d love this lesson. I’m pinning it to my cow board now 🙂

    1. If she’s a huge fan, then did you see the cow experiment for “milking a cow” linked up 2 weeks ago? I had meant to do it, but didn’t get a chance. I featured it last week.

    2. Andrea @ No Doubt Learning Avatar
      Andrea @ No Doubt Learning

      No I was on vacation and missed it! Just checked it out and we milked cows using rubber gloves last summer. Both my kids had a blast – what fun!

    3. Your handprint cows are so cute! I pinned them to my land animals board, there’s no such thing as too many cow posts according to my son.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *