Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • Ruminants like cows have an amazing digestive system. They are able to digest cellulose found in plant material – something humans cannot do.

    Drag and drop the text labels onto the boxes next to the diagram. Selecting or hovering over a box will highlight each area in the diagram.

    Rights: DairyNZ and The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Published 15 April 2021 Referencing Hub media

    Ruminants are mammals with specialised digestive systems that use fermentation processes to gain nutrients from plant material. Cattle, sheep, horses, deer, goats and camels are all ruminants and have adaptations to allow them to thrive on a plant-only diet.

    In this interactive, you can label parts of the cow’s digestive passage. Use your mouse or finger to hover over a box to highlight the body part to be named. Drag and drop the text labels onto the boxes next to the simplified diagram of a cow’s digestive system.

    If you want to redo an answer, click on the box and the answer will go back to the top so you can move it to another box. If you want to check your answers, use the Reset Incorrect button. This will reset incorrect answers only. When you are happy with your selection, use the Check answers button to check them. Use Reset All to practise again from the start. Selecting or hovering over a box will highlight each area in the diagram.

    For optimal viewing of this interactive, view at your screen’s default zoom setting (100%) and with your browser window view maximised.

    See the Explore a cow's digestive system activity for additional support in using this interactive.




    A cow uses her tongue to grasp a clump of grass and pull it into her mouth.


    Its main role is to act as a filter, trapping larger feed particles that require further mastication.


    This is the fermentation vat. It is the largest part of the stomach.


    Called the true stomach, it has a similar function to stomachs found in other animals, like humans.


    It is made up of lots of leaf-like projections, creating a large surface area to absorb water.

    Small intestine

    It is about 40 metres long and is where additional digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs.

    Large intestine

    This is the final part of the digestive tract. Its main function is to absorb water and minerals.


    This is a circular muscle that controls the expulsion of waste from the digestion process.

    Use the DOWNLOAD EXERCISE button for a PDF version of this interactive.


    This resource has been produced with the support of DairyNZ.

        Go to full glossary
        Download all