Burps - in Other Animals

In Other Animals

Many other mammals, such as cattle, dogs, and sheep also belch. In the case of ruminants, the gas (wind) expelled is actually methane produced as a byproduct of the animal's digestive process. This methane is produced exclusively by a narrow cohert of methanogenic archaea produce this effect; Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other bacteria lack the enzymes and cofactors required for methane production. An average cow is thought to emit between 542 litres (if located in a barn) and 600 litres (if in a field) of methane per day through belching and exhalation, making commercially farmed cattle a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. 95% of this gas (wind) is emitted through belching. This has led scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Perth, Australia, to develop an anti-methanogen vaccine to minimize methane in cattle belchs.

One reason that domesticated cows belch so much is because they are often fed foods that their digestive systems do not process, such as corn and soy. Some farmers have reduced belching in their cows by feeding them alfalfa and flaxseed, which are closer to the grasses that they had eaten in the wild before they were domesticated.

In some animals, a failure to belch successfully can be fatal. This is particularly common among domesticated ruminants that are allowed to gorge themselves on very rich spring clover or alfalfa. The condition, known as bloat, is basically a high pressure buildup of gastric gases and requires immediate veterinary treatment, usually the insertion of a flexible rubber hose down the esophagus—or in extreme cases the lancing of the animal's side with a trochar and cannula—to expel the buildup of gas. (wind) Some fish are also known to expel air from their gills; here the belch is produced by gas being expelled from the gas bladder.

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