During our research on Biltong, we discovered that several dried ruminant animals exist and possess a unique digestive system that allows them to gain energy from fibrous plants more effectively than most herbivores.
Most people are familiar with cows and their four stomachs and learned this at school, but several other species are out there.
At meat lovers, we thought it was interesting to give you an overview of the most popular dried meat products made from these animals, and we have put together a table with our findings.
Overview of dried popular meat products from ruminant animals by country
Four-legged creatures with cloven hoofs and straight toes, ruminants are remarkable mammals due to their complex digestive system.
These animals digest their food multiple times, munching and regurgitating vegetation repeatedly before it is broken down in different stomach sections. As a result, ruminants exhibit a unique digestive process that sets them apart from other species.
Among the best-known ruminants
These hoofed herbivorous mammals eat fairly quickly. However, they cannot directly digest grasses, foliage, and other plant material because their bodies do not produce enzymes that can break down cellulose. Instead, digestion occurs sequentially in a multi-chambered stomach.
In ruminants with a four-chambered stomach, the ingested plant material is stored in the first chamber of the rumen, where it softens.
Later, they regurgitate this feed and chew it again to break down the hard-to-digest cellulose content further.
The regurgitated food passes directly to the other stomach chambers, where it is further digested with the help of various important microorganisms in the stomach.
Typical advantages of eating dried ruminant animal products
Their shelf life can be extended by dehydration, which preserves their nutritional content.
I often find that dehydrated meat is high in protein and essential amino acids and contains less fat than fresh meat.
The drying removes much fat, allowing the meat to absorb more flavor. Dried animal foods are often consumed by athletes and people who want to build muscle because of their high protein content.
As a human, I have been eating this type of meat since I discovered.. beef jerky (I must admit!).
Paleolithic records show that hunter-gatherers preserved their catch by drying the meat for future meals.
In addition, they can be a great source of the B vitamins thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6) and folate (B9).
Another common characteristic of these cured meats is their intense flavor due to the curing, marinating, and flavoring processes used in their production.
In addition, due to the lack of fat, they are usually quite elastic after drying.
Look out for them when you travel or create your own Biltong!