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Why are cowpats sloppier than other herbivore droppings? © Getty Images

Why are cowpats sloppier than other herbivore droppings?

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Ruminants, like cows, have more efficient digestion than other herbivores thanks to double the chewing and four-chambered stomachs.

Asked by: Graham Barnes, Sussex

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Cows are ruminants. This means that their food is chewed twice: once when they graze, and then a second time when partially digested grass (cud) is passed back up to the mouth for another going-over. This, plus the four-chambered arrangement of their stomachs, makes ruminant digestion about 70 per cent more efficient than other herbivores, such as horses. So the poop that finally emerges is more completely broken down and has none of the leftover plant fibres that give horse droppings their structure. Cows fed on silage, which is already partly fermented, have even runnier manure.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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