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Goat stomach chamber

Michael Frank, Royal Veterinary College

Download this image from Wellcome Collection.

Photograph of a goat’s reticulum (the second of four stomach chambers found in cattle, sheep and goats). The tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach – the oesophagus – enters the reticulum at the top of the image. The inside of the reticulum forms a honeycomb pattern, which is where bacteria that help break down food live. Large particles swallowed by mistake are also separated away from food here. The opening in the centre leads to the omasum, the third stomach chamber. This historical specimen is from a cull animal. It is preserved in formalin in a Perspex container and was photographed in the Anatomy Museum of the Royal Veterinary College in London. The container measures 17 x 14 x 4 cm.

How do stomach chambers change during a goat’s life?

Goats, cattle and sheep (ruminants) have four stomach chambers: three fermentation chambers (rumen, reticulum and omasum), followed by one chamber (abomasum) that uses stomach acid for digestion. A young goat kid is born with a very small rumen, reticulum and omasum. When the kid feeds on milk, it passes directly from the oesophagus into the fourth stomach chamber, the omasum. It travels down the oesophageal groove (centre of image), a tube that temporarily forms each time the kid swallows, to bypass the first three chambers. Once the kid starts to feed on solids, this tube opens up so grass can pass directly into the rumen. The rumen then increases in relative size.