Agricultural Science (All Classes)


What is Livestock Digestion?. Livestock Digestion is the process through which food is broken down into small particles in the alimentary canal ready for absorption into the blood stream.

Digestion of food in livestock takes place in three stages;

  • Mechanical breakdown and chewing
  • Microbial breakdown by bacteria and protozoa in the rumen of ruminants
  • Chemical breakdown by enzymes.


Digestive system of a Ruminant


  • Breakdown of food by micro-organisms and also stores food.
  • Synthesis of vitamin B-complex.
  • Synthesis of amino acids from ammonia gas.
  • Proteins are broken to peptides and amino acids.
  • Carbohydrates are broken to volatile fatty acids.


  • Separates large food particles from the small particles.
  • Retains foreign materials such as stones, hard wood and sand.


  • Breaks up food by grinding.
  • Reduction of water content from the feed stuff.


  • Enzymatic digestion takes place here ..
  • Contains some microbes which digest cellulose.
  • Breaks up food by grinding.
  • It is also found in non-ruminants.


Digestive system of a non-ruminant e.g pig Comparison Between Digestion in Ruminant and Non- ruminants

Differences Between Digestion In Ruminants and Non-Ruminants


  • Chew the cud.
  • Have four stomach chambers, thus polygastric.
  • Regurgitate food.
  • Can digest cellulose. Have micro-organisms in the rumen that digest cellulose.
  • Have no Ptyalin in saliva hence
  • No enzymatic digestion in the mouth.
  • Most digestion and absorption takes place in the rumen.
  • Have alkaline saliva due to presence of ammonia.

Non -ruminants

  • Do not chew the cud.
  • Have one stomach chamber – thus monogastric.
  • Cannot regurgitate food once swallowed.
  • Have no micro-organisms in the stomach hence cannot digest cellulose except those animals with micro-organisms in the caecum.
  • Have Ptyalin in the saliva hence enzymatic digestion starts in the mouth
  • Most digestion and absorption takes in the small intestines.
  • The saliva is neutral pH.


Digestion system of poultry

Functions of the Parts of Poultry


– Storage of food.

–  Softening of food by secretions from small glands in the walls.

Proventriculus: Enzymes start the breakdown of food.

Gizzard:-Crushes and grinds the coarse food (has small grit and gravel).


Similarities Between Digestion In Ruminants and Non-Ruminants

  • Digestion in young ruminants is similar to that in non-ruminants as they do not have a developed rumen-reticulum complex.
  • Final protein digestion takes place in the small intestines in both cases.
  • Water absorption takes place in the colon in both ruminants and non-ruminants

See also:

scheme of work





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