From the horse’s mouth

COCOLAMUS – At East Juniata High School, show and tell is taken seriously.

On Friday, two agricultural education students at the school trailored their animals to class as props for presentations about ruminant and non-ruminant animals. Sue Glick, EJHS agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, said the presentations are an extension of a unit the students are currently studying on digestion of large animals. She encouraged the students to incorporate at least three different methods of teaching into presentations about what they have learned.

Mikayla Cheran, a student in Glick’s fifth period Large Animal class and FFA vice president, brought her Quarter Horse, Stoney, as an example of a non-ruminant. The 16-year-old palomino stood in the doorway of the classroom while Cheran explained that non-ruminants are monogastric animals, or animals with a single, simple stomach. She said humans, dogs and cats are also non-ruminants.

Brooke Kitting, also a student in the class and FFA secretary, introduced her classmates to Peaches, her Hereford/Holstein cross cow, and 5-week-old calf, Martin. She explained that cattle are ruminants, or animals with one four-chambered stomach. The complex stomach allows ruminants to digest complex foods and grains that would otherwise be non-digestible, she said.

Kitting explained that when food is chewed and swallowed by ruminents, it enters a portion of the stomach called the rumen where bacterial fermentation takes place. From there, a portion of the food is regurgitated, chewed and swallowed a second time. Cattle chew “cud” up to eight hours per day, she said.

The digestive process of cattle sometimes causes a condition called “frothy bloat,” which occurs when the gases of fermentation are trapped in the system, Kitting said. Bloat is not a serious illness and animals are relieved as soon as the gases are released, she explained.

Non-ruminent animals can also experience digestive complications, Cheran said. Horses are particularly prone to colic, or abdominal pains associated with overeating. Cheran said horses usually want to lay down when they colic, but it’s important to keep them walking to prevent further complication.

Also during the class, student Jerry Landis gave a presentation using a variety of posters and diagrams. To capture the interest of his audience, he listed a number of interesting facts about ruminant and non-ruminant animals. Landis said there are over 210 breeds of goats worldwide, one pound of wool can make up to 10 miles of yarn, an average dairy cow can produce up to 20,000 glasses of milk in its lifetime and wolves may eat up to 20 pounds of meat in a single meal.

Glick said class presentations continue through March 8. Each student in grades 10 to 12 is required to give a 15 minute presentation about what they have learned. Methods of teaching may include powerpoint, posters, games, quizzes and more.