Different activities to illustrate digestion in Animal Science

January 02, 2015

There's no one method to illustrate livestock digestion.  Dissection is popular but real stomachs and intestines are not always available for use in your lab.  So get creative!

1.  With a few bottles, cow manure, and some vegetable matter and you have an artificial stomach.

Created by sciencebuddies.org

2.  If you don't have bottles and balloons available zip-loc bags will do just fine.

Created by teachwithfergy.com

3.  If you have access to a University a canulated steer can give the most hands on lesson ever.

Created by Newton County College & Career Academy and University of Georgia Dairy Science

4.  You can always get your favorite desserts and candies and make your own gourmet dessert. 


Created by Betsy Schoelerman

5.  If you need to get the students outside you can always get a carton of sidewalk chalk and draw it out large.

Created by Bullitt East FFA

6.  You can always break out the play dough and build the system yourself. 

Created by Cleveland FFA

7.  Take it one step further and have the students label the parts and describe the function.

Created by Aplington-Parkersburg FFA

Don't limit yourself.  Use your imagination and create a hands on activity that will really create a meaningful connection for understanding ruminant and hind gut digestion.


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Have a great week at school!


2 Responses


January 31, 2018

Hey Jordan -

Essentially, you put fresh manure in each bottle. Fresh, because there still should be plenty of yeast, bacteria, and enzymes just looking for a quick bite. Then in each bottle you add different material you believe the cow digestive bacteria and yeast will feed on. Hint: yeast love sugar. However, too much sugar combined with too little water and note enough oxygen and they will stop growing because carbon dioxide and alcohol are produced. Think wine. The balloon fills up with carbon dioxide and this is your sign of happy yeast. The biggest balloon has the happiest yeast.

My apologies for the late reply. I hope this helps.

Have a great day,


Jordan Leonard
Jordan Leonard

December 12, 2017

Can you explain the bottle activity a little bit more?

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