Most of us are familiar with the fact that cows are cud chewers. We may feel that the cud chewing is just because the cow is a quiet and seemingly lazy animal. The fact is that the system the cow uses has been designed to allow animals who are grazers to survive in the hostile world of the wilderness.

Cows, deer, goats, and sheep are members of a group of animals known as ruminants. These animals have a four-chamber stomach made for storing unchewed vegetation. The animal bites off vegetation and swallows it immediately. Later the “cud,” the unchewed vegetation eaten earlier, is brought up and chewed thoroughly and then swallowed for the final time.

This may not be particularly advantageous for a cow, but for a deer, goat, or sheep in the wild, it is vital. Food is scarce at various times of the year, and predators can be very active. A deer, goat, or sheep can gulp down a massive amount of vegetative material and store it very quickly. Later when there is adequate time in a safe area, the animal can process the food. This means that if a predator appears while the animal is eating, it can run and take its meal with it.

The balance in nature between predators and those animals that eat plant material is critical. If there are too many plant eaters they will eat all of the plants and bring starvation to their offspring. If there are too many successful predators, they can wipe out all of the plant eaters. God has designed various methods animals use to avoid being wiped out, and cud chewing is one of them.

Source: Mark Trail comic strip, August 30, 2009.

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