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How Many Stomachs Do Goats Have (And How Do They Work?)

white goat in the meadow

If you’ve ever wondered about farm animal digestion, you might already know that many of these animals have more than one stomach. Since we know goats have a stomach of steel, is it possible that they have more than one?

The answer is yes! Goats are ruminants, having four stomachs total. But that really doesn’t have anything to do with them consuming inedible materials. Let’s find out more about how the stomach works and what’s going on with their insatiable appetites.

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Goats Have Four Stomachs

Goats have four stomach compartments that are equally important for digestion. It has three stomachs that are considered “forestomachs”, while the abomasum is the true stomach.

Each of the stomachs performs a stand-alone function, ultimately working together to digest uniquely.


Food first visits the rumen. The rumen is the largest forestomach, capable of holding up to two gallons. It is a vat of fermentation where bacteria break down roughage with microorganisms.

Once the process is complete, the goat will regurgitate the contents. As they rechew this material, it will move onto another compartment after.

The rumen is also responsible for creating methane gas and heat that helps a goat regulate their body temperature.


The reticulum takes food from the rumen that is too large for that particular stomach. The reticulum returns the leftover remnants called cud back up the esophagus and into the mouth for additional chewing.

The goat will then chew the cud until it’s broken down sufficiently to pass to the omasum. If there is anything inedible or indigestible in the system, the reticulum will get rid of this.


Remnants of food go from the reticulum into the omasum, where more enzymes break down the food. Long tissue folds help remove excess fluid and further decrease particle size.


The abomasum is the main part of the stomach where typical digestive enzymes are. The rest of the food that has been passed through all stomachs is digested further. The abomasum is more comparable to a human stomach, as this is the part that functions similarly.

Also, milk or grains go straight to the abomasum too.


A Goat’s Diet

Goats are herbivores, even though they sometimes eat things they shouldn’t. Goats love sampling new menu items, but they can also be quite picky with food.

Typically, goats eat:

Goats’ digestive systems entirely rely on processing plant roughage.

Goat eating lettuce
Image Credit: scollins619, Pixabay

Can Goats Eat Anything?

Goats get quite a reputation for eating anything and everything in sight. While it’s true that they love sampling a variety of foods, and sometimes objects, in their surroundings—they can’t eat just anything.

Goats should never eat human food or inanimate objects. They truly just like to walk around sampling everything in sight. While it isn’t uncommon for them to munch on things like tin cans, they usually want the glue or label outside and possibly leftover contents inside.

Goats really don’t have a draw to eat metal.

Actually, goats can be quite picky sometimes about what they put in their mouths. Some might be voracious eaters, while others are quite fussy.

Related Read: Can Goats Safely Eat Poison Ivy? What You Need To Know!

Other Animals that Have Multiple Stomachs

Goats are the only ones who have multiple stomachs! Many grazing animals that enjoy plant matter also have this type of digestive system. It is specifically created to metabolize these types of organic materials.

goat and sheep walking
Image Credit: Piqsels

Animals who share this makeup include:

  • Sheep
  • Cattle
  • Buffalo
  • Elk
  • Giraffes
  • Camel

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The four chambers of a goat’s stomach make their overall eating experience different from many other animals. However, it is a myth and common misconception that goats can eat whatever they want.

On the contrary, herbivores eat various fruits, veggies, and grains to give their bodies the necessary nutrients.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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