Anatomy: Bovine


Bovine Anatomy

Welcome to bovine (Wodeja) anatomy (Wîchasta Tachâ)! We will be going through some of the major body systems, such as the respiratory system, the digestive system, the musculo-skeletal system and the renal system. An interesting fact about bovine species is that they actually lack upper incisors and canine teeth (Hîthke). Instead, they have a very tough dental pad that provides friction as the lower incisors grind up their food (Wonâpche). This image is of a bone (Huhu) called the Atlas and it is one of the 7 cervical vertebrae in the neck (Tahu).

Bovine Respiratory System

Watch the video below to see the inflation of real cow lungs! 

Bovine Skeleton

Bovine Skeleton

The cow skeleton (Wîchasta tachâ huhu) is very similar to the skeletons of other mammals, with slight variations. The cow has 7 cervical vertebrae (Châkahu), 13 thoracic vertebrae (and ribs), 6 lumbar vertebrae, 5 sacral vertebrae, and 18-20 coccygeal vertebrae. In the lower forelimb (Îthto) of cows, the radius and ulna are separate, but the ulna is quite slim. In the lower hindlimb (Cheja), the fibula has also reduced in size in comparison to the tibia.

Bovine Digestive Tract

The cow’s digestive tract consists of the mouth, the esophagus (Node îmehen), a complex 4-compartment stomach (Tethi), the small intestine (Sube), and the large intestine (Sube). The stomach includes the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. Cows are foregut fermenters, which means that the majority of the digestion of their food occurs within their 4-compartment stomach. Food travels from the esophagus into the rumen, from the rumen into the reticulum, from the reticulum into the omasum, and from the omasum into the abomasum. 

Rumen & Reticulum

Rumen & Reticulum

The rumen is on the left side of the cow and makes up 80% of a cow’s stomach (Tethi) volume. It is a fermentation chamber that helps break down fibrous plant material. Fermentation is a slow digestive process carried out by bacteria. They convert indigestible fiber into useful nutrients for the cow. The floor of the rumen contains large, paddle-shaped papillae that increase the efficiency of food digestion. The reticulum sits ahead of the opening to the esophagus (Node îmehen) in the forward area of the body cavity. Its tissues are arranged in a honeycomb-like structure. The rumen and the reticulum are commonly called the ruminoreticulum. The reticulum is very close to the diaphragm and heart (Châde), and if metal objects (like nails) are eaten by the cow they can poke through the reticulum and damage the heart. This is called ‘hardware disease’ and is treated by surgery or feeding the cow magnets.  

Omasum & Abomasum

Omasum & Abomasum

The omasum is a ball-shaped structure that contains leaves of tissue that increase surface area for water (Mînî) reabsorption. The omasum makes up approximately 8% of the cow’s stomach (Tethi) volume. The abomasum is the equivalent to the simple glandular stomach of dogs (Sûga), cats (Owakâgen), horses (Suwatâga), and humans. It produces acid and proteins called enzymes that help breakdown feed and release any remaining nutrients. 

Bovine Kidney

Bovine Renal System

The kidneys (Azûkta) function to remove wastes and extra fluids from the body. They help maintain a healthy balance of water (Mînî), salts (Tasuza), and minerals in your blood. They also make hormones that help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep bones (Huhu) strong and healthy. The cow kidney has a very different appearance from the human kidney, as it is lobated. Each kidney is divided into approximately 12 lobes.