Ruminant species

Ruminant species constitute a suborder of Artiodactyla, the hoofed mammals, with the most significant anatomical difference between ruminants and other mammals being the four-chambered (rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum) digestive system that allows ruminants to derive 60% of their energy requirements from the microbial fermentation in the rumen-reticulum of the constituents of plant cell walls. Furthermore, the presence of the rumen-reticulum permits the distinguishable "cud chewing" cycle known as rumination. The literature has been dominated by the scheme of ruminants being grouped into three ecophysiological types [5] according to the predominant food type they consume: grazers (e.g., cattle, Bos taurus), browsers (e.g., moose, Alces alces), and intermediate feeders (e.g., red deer, Cervus elaphus). Furthermore, ruminant species also exhibit strong variations in the ability to digest fiber, a feature that has been attributed to ecophysiological differences between species [6], although more recently it has been proposed [7] that the morphophysiological contrasts in digestive capability merely reflect the contrasts in body size and not feeding type as historically presented.

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