Horses Chew cud I get this question asked a lot from my fellow livestock keepers. I have been raising horses for more than a decade now and observed closely their eating habits and digestive process. So let’s get you some answers for do horses chew cud like cattle?
What is a cud? Several ruminant animals do not entirely chew the grass, pasture, or other forage before swallowing it for digestion. The food is partially digested in the rumen and transformed into a ball of cud. This ball of cud then paves its way back into the animal’s mouth for being rechewed.
Do horses chew cud?
Do horses chew cud? The answer is black and white no. Horses’ digestive system does not work like that of cattle, they chew their food completely before swallowing it. The food once it reaches the stomach for digestion does not come back for a second round of chewing.
Are horses ruminant? No, horses are not ruminants like cattle, sheep, and goats, etc therefore they digest food differently. Horses are often mistaken for being a ruminant as they eat grass, this is the primary reason many people believe that horses chew cud like cattle.
How does Horse’s digestive system work?
Unlike ruminants, a horse’s stomach contains one compartment. The digestive system of a horse comprises the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. This is where all the digestion happens.
The stomach and small intestine of a horse function somewhat similarly to monogastric animals like dogs, cats, and pigs. The stomach and small intestine are referred to as foregut and the large intestine as hindgut.
After chewing the food completely and swallowing it, the food makes its way to the single-chambered stomach from there it is sent to the small stomach, later it moves to the initial compartment of the large intestine, the caecum. Here the nutrients are absorbed and food is further fermented and broken down. Then it is pushed to the colon to complete the digestion of food.
In the case of the horse’s digestive system, the food is never sent back to be eaten again rather it is chewed properly and then swallowed.
Do horses chew food like cattle and other ruminants?
No, the horses’ digestive system works differently. They chew the food and swallow and the food is never brought back for being rechewed. Whereas ruminants do a little chewing and the food is then partially digested in the rumen and then the ball of cud comes back for another round of chewing. (source)
Do equines digest food like ruminants?
A ruminant stomach has four compartments where the food is broken down and digested, however, horses have a single-chambered stomach where the digestion begins. Cattles eat cud which the rumen sent for rechewing whereas the horses chew the food completely before swallowing.
Putting it all together, Horses are not ruminants so they do not digest food like one. Their digestive system functions like that of monogastric animals, where the food is entirely chewed before swallowing. The food is not sent back and horses do not chew food twice like cattle.