A-z - Animals

Cow Dung: Everything You Needed to Know

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Cows seem to be simple, peaceful animals. But these creatures are more complicated than they seem! Cows are very fascinating animals, with unusual physical characteristics and a high level of emotional intelligence. In most parts of the world, cows are used for milking. Yet over millennia, cows have made many contributions (even in interesting forms) to human existence.

Whether it comes from animals or humans, poop is usually not the topic. But cow dung deserves a special mention because it is a resourceful material that can benefit us in a number of ways. While some of us may find cow dung disgusting, farmers recognize it as an essential part of agriculture's natural nutrient cycle that feeds animals, the environment, and the community. Like water, manure is recycled and used in a variety of ways on a dairy farm.

Plus, it's an abundant and sustainable resource, and it's a pity when it's wasted. But what does cow poop look like? This article will answer that question, and everything you ever wanted to know about cow manure.

What does cow dung look like?

Cow Dung - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know - 1
Cow manure is usually dark brown in color, but can also be red, gray, black, or any combination of these colors.

©Vladimir Konstantinov/Shutterstock.com

Cow dung is soft in texture and tends to be deposited in a round shape, so the dung is also called cow pie and cow dung. It varies in form, consistency and color. The color is usually dark brown, but can also be red, gray, black, or any combination of these. Regular cow dung should resemble a thick mound of cake batter with just the right amount of moisture. Ideally, the thick cake fertilizer should be light to medium brown in color.

Green manure indicates that cows have been eating fresh grass. The more grain an animal consumes, the yellower it becomes. Cows with thin manure should be fed a high-fiber feed with more hay than grain. However, it may also be normal for an animal's droppings to be dark brown to gray, depending on the type of grains in their diet.

It is critical to consider the animal's roughage intake when abnormal excretions are noted. Digestive difficulties may occur if the feed contains too much lignin, and if this low quality indicator is present, the manure will pile up higher than usual.

What do cows eat?

Zebu in the field
Cows are herbivores, eating grass and other plants.

© Christophe Laborderie/Creative Commons

Since they are herbivores, cows eat grass and other plants. Due to their special diet, cows may consume a variety of tough grasses, which make up more than 50% of a cow's ration. Contrary to popular belief, cows eat the leaves and stems of grains such as corn, wheat and oats much more frequently than grains such as corn kernels. Although it makes up less than a quarter of their diet, cows consume some grain.

How Do Cows Digest Food?

When cows graze, the grass passes through the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum before being absorbed.

© iStock.com/Scott Allen

Cows are generally thought to have four stomachs. To be honest, a cow's multi-compartment stomach is very different from a human stomach. When they graze, the grass passes through the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum before being absorbed.

The rumen is the first part of the cow's stomach. Many bacteria inhabit the rumen, which acts as a storage chamber for food, while the bacteria break down cellulose, or fiber, in the plants the cows eat. At this point, the food is only partially broken down and not yet digested. Unlike the human stomach, there is no stomach acid. You can tell how well a cow is grazing by watching how much grass, hay, or other plant material it eats. It doesn't chew its food like a horse; instead, it chews the food in small amounts to moisten it before swallowing it whole.

The reticulum is located behind the rumen. Food enters this area, causing the cow to regurgitate and begin "rumination"—the process of breaking food down into smaller pieces. Bacteria are also present in the meshwork. The cow, weighing an average of 1,400 pounds, eats for six to eight hours a day and then ruminates for another five to eight hours.

The leaflets follow the meshwork. The meal continues until the cow has finished regurgitating and is swallowed a second time. It absorbs water and some already digested nutrients.

The abomasum, which actually digests food, is the last unit. In contrast to the foregut, where fermentation occurs, the abomasum is considered the "true" stomach of all ruminants, similar to the human stomach. It contains bile, stomach acid, and possibly some bacteria that the rumen uses to break down cellulose.

The digestive systems of horses and cows differ in many ways. If you compare it to cow manure, horse manure still contains a small amount of grain or grass. Since the breakdown and digestion of plant material is much more complete, there is none in cow poop.

What are the benefits of cow dung?

Manure from cow manure is widely used as agricultural fertilizer. It is rich in minerals, especially potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. When combined with soil, it promotes the growth of beneficial microbes. Additionally, fertilizers enhance soil texture and help retain moisture.

Clumped and dried cow dung is used as fuel in many developing countries, and previously in the mountainous regions of Europe. Manure can also be collected and used to create biogas, which can be used to provide heat and energy. Methane-rich natural gas is used to generate energy in rural areas of Pakistan, India and other countries, but it is not sustainable.

A Maasai village in central Africa burns cow dung indoors to repel mosquitoes. Country houses were lined with cow dung as cheap insulation in colder environments. To keep insects out of the bay, most villagers in India spray water and fresh cow dung in front of their homes.


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about the author

Victor Victor

For six years, I have been a professional writer and editor of books, blogs and websites, with a particular focus on animals, technology and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with my friends.

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