Friends of Kootenay Blog

Access stories and photos about the natural and human history of Kootenay National Park and Columbia Valley Includes highlights about the Friends of Kootenay National Park activities and programs.

 

Ruminating

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version


Bighorn sheep rumination or cud chewing occurs primarily when the animal is resting and not eating.
They’ll chew their cuds for several hours each day. - Photo by Larry Halverson


 

Some ungulates like Bighorn Sheep are ruminants. Meaning they have a rumen or a false stomach that allows them to gather large amounts of food quickly,  especially when they are in the open and more susceptible to predators. Then later they can retire to safer areas to rechew and digest their food.

The rumen is also like a fermentation vat containing millions of microorganisms that help digest the fibrous grasses and shrubs.

The one side effect of ruminating is that the fermentation produces enormous quantities of gas which the sheep get rid of by belching. So next time you see a bighorn chewing its cud listen closely for burps.