16 Different Types of Ruminant Animals

Different Types of Ruminant Animals
Photo by Diana Parkhouse on Unsplash

Are you interested in learning more about the world of livestock? If so, this blog post is for you!

We’ll be deeply diving into understanding the different types of ruminant animals and mammals that can digest plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach before digestion. 

We’ll look at how these animals are distinguished from other livestock, their unique digestive system, and the different types of ruminant animals that can be found worldwide.

So let’s jump right in and start learning about our ruminant friends!

1. Dwarf Blue Sheep

The Dwarf blue sheep is a small, rare breed native to Iran and Iraq.

As its name suggests, it has a blue-grey fleece and is much smaller than most other breeds of sheep, weighing only 40-60 pounds as an adult.

Despite its diminutive size, the Dwarf blue sheep, the first on this list of different types of ruminant animals, is hardy and able to thrive in harsh, mountainous environments.

This breed of sheep is known for its high-quality fleece, which is sought after for use in textiles and clothing.

In addition to its wool, the Dwarf blue sheep is also valued for its meat and milk, making it an important food source and income for the people who raise them.

Despite its many desirable traits, the Dwarf blue sheep are considered endangered, and efforts are underway to preserve the breed and promote its conservation.

2. Wild Goat

Wild Goat
by ianpreston is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wild goats, also known as ibex, are one of the different types of ruminant animals that can be found in many different parts of the world.

These animals are often considered agile and have adapted well to difficult terrains like rocky cliffs and mountains.

They are known for their incredible horns for territorial defense and attracting mates.

Moreso, there are many different species of wild goats, such as the Alpine ibex, the Nubian ibex, and the Bezoar ibex.

These animals vary in size and appearance, but they all share the same ability to digest their food through a complex digestive process that involves multiple stomachs.

Despite being wild animals, some people have domesticated wild goats for their milk or meat, but this is not very common.

3. Bawean Deer

Bawean Deer
by bob|P-&-S is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Coming in third on our list of the different types of ruminant animals is the Bawean deer, a small species of ruminants native to the Indonesian island of Bawean.

It is considered a critically endangered species, with a population estimated to be less than 250 individuals in the wild. 

These deer have a unique appearance: spotted fur and long antlers with multiple branches. They are herbivores and primarily feed on leaves, grasses, and fruits.

Unfortunately, habitat loss and hunting have led to the decline of the Bawean deer population, making conservation efforts crucial for their survival.

4. Red Deer

Red Deer
by chapmankj75 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Red deer are among the largest species, widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.

These animals have a reddish-brown coat with a characteristic white rump patch, and males (known as stags) have impressive antlers that can grow up to 3 feet long.

Red deer are known for their majestic appearance and ability to thrive in various habitats, including forests, mountains, and grasslands.

In addition to being one of the different types of ruminant animals and popular game animals, red deer also play an important ecological role.

They are herbivores that consume various plant materials, including grasses, leaves, and shoots.

By browsing vegetation, red deer help shape plant communities and create habitats for other wildlife.

These animals also provide food and shelter for predators such as wolves, lynx, and bears.

4. Bluebuck

by images @ nitya is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Bluebuck was a species of antelope that is now extinct, making it one of the different types of ruminant animals that is the most rare and unique to have ever lived.

They were native to South Africa and were first discovered by European explorers in the 17th century.

Due to overhunting and habitat destruction, the Bluebuck was declared extinct in 1800, making it one of the first large mammals to disappear during modern times.

While little is known about the Bluebuck’s behavior and ecology, it is believed that they lived in small groups and fed on grasses and other plants. Their fur was blue-gray, which likely gave them camouflage in their habitat.

Today, only a few specimens exist in museums and collections, making the Bluebuck a tragic reminder of the importance of conservation efforts to protect our planet’s diverse animal life.

6. Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep
by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bighorn sheep are not excluded from this list of the different types of ruminant animals commonly found in North America.

They are characterized by their large, curved horns, which males use to compete with females during mating season.

Bighorn sheep are well adapted to their rocky and mountainous habitats, with their sharp hooves allowing them to climb steep terrain easily.

Bighorn sheep are herbivores, feeding primarily on grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation in their habitat.

Like other types of ruminant animals, they have a four-chambered stomach and can break down tough plant materials using rumination.

Bighorn sheep are important to many indigenous communities as a food source and a symbol of cultural significance.

7. Domestic Sheep

Domestic Sheep
by BinaryApe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Among the different types of ruminant animals, camels are unique and often associated with desert regions and nomadic cultures.

There are two types of camels – dromedary and Bactrian – each with distinct features.

Dromedary camels, also known as Arabian camels, have one hump, while Bactrian camels have two humps. 

These desert animals have adapted to extreme conditions by surviving without water for extended periods and being able to withstand hot temperatures.

They are often used as pack animals and have a strong cultural significance in regions such as the Middle East and North Africa.

Additionally, camels produce milk, meat, and leather, making them a valuable resource for those living in desert regions.

8. Antelope

by snowpeak is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Antelope is a large group of ruminant animals that belong to the Bovidae family.

These animals are known for their impressive speed and agility and are typically found in savannas, grasslands, and deserts across Africa, Asia, and North America.

There are more than 90 species of antelope, each with unique characteristics, habits, and behaviors.

Some of the most common types of antelope include the impala, the eland, the gazelle, and the springbok.

Aside from being one of the different types of ruminant animals, they are also known for their slender bodies, long legs, and curved horns.

They are herbivores, feeding on grass, leaves, and shoots, and are often preyed upon by carnivorous animals such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs.

Despite this, antelopes are considered an important part of many ecosystems, as they help control plant life’s growth and provide a valuable food source for predators.

9. Blackbuck

by Hari K Patibanda is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Blackbuck, also known as the Indian antelope, is a medium-sized ruminant in the Indian subcontinent.

These animals are known for their striking black and white markings on their body, with the males having long, spiral horns.

They are primarily grazers, feeding on grass and herbs in the open grasslands and scrublands.

Blackbuck has been domesticated in some regions of India for their meat and milk.

However, their numbers have declined due to habitat loss, poaching, and hunting for their skin and horns.

Efforts are being made to conserve their populations through protected areas and captive breeding programs.

In addition to their ecological significance, blackbuck holds cultural and spiritual significance in Indian folklore and mythology.

10. Snow Sheep

Snow Sheep
by Martin Pettitt is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Snow sheep, also known as Siberian bighorn sheep, is a species of wild sheep found in the northern regions of Russia, Mongolia, and China.

As their name suggests, snow sheep are well adapted to cold and snowy environments.

They have thick coats of fur that protect them from harsh elements and broad hooves that help them traverse snow-covered terrain. 

Snow sheep are among the different types of ruminant animals highly prized by hunters for their impressive horns, which can weigh up to 30 pounds and grow up to four feet in length.

Despite this, snow sheep populations are generally healthy and stable, and hunting is tightly regulated to ensure their continued survival.

In addition to hunting, snow sheep are also an important part of the ecosystem in their native habitats, helping to maintain healthy plant populations and supporting other wildlife species.

11. Alpine Ibex

Alpine Ibex
by frederic.jacobs is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Alpine ibex, also known as the steinbock, is a wild mountain goat in the European Alps. They are known for their impressive curved horns reaching up to 1 meter long!

In the past, they were hunted to near extinction, but conservation efforts have helped to increase their population in recent years

These majestic animals, which are also one of the different types of ruminant animals,  are well adapted to their mountainous habitat.

Their large hooves allow them to climb steep slopes, and their thick fur helps to protect them from the cold temperatures. 

What’s more? Alpine ibex are herbivores and primarily eat grasses, leaves, and other plant materials.

They also have a unique social hierarchy, with dominant males often leading their herd and engaging in displays of strength and dominance.

Overall, the Alpine ibex is a fascinating and resilient ruminant species that continues to thrive in its alpine environment.

12. Taiwan Serow

Taiwan Serow
by a-giau is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Still discussing the different types of ruminant animals, the Taiwan serow is a small ruminant native to Taiwan.

They are known for their distinct physical features, including short legs, dark brown coats, and curved horns.

They are considered an endangered species, with their population declining due to habitat destruction and hunting.

These animals are primarily found in mountainous areas, where they feed on various vegetation, including bamboo, grasses, and shrubs.

They are active during the day and are known to be shy and elusive. Despite their small size, they are agile climbers, able to scale steep terrain easily.

Due to their status as endangered, conservation efforts are in place to protect and preserve the Taiwan serow population.

13. Zebu

by NH53 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Zebu, the next on this list of different types of ruminant animals, is a type of ruminant that is known for its adaptability and hardiness.

It is native to South Asia but is now found worldwide, particularly in tropical regions.

Zebu has several distinct features that set it apart from other ruminants, including a large hump of muscle on its back, long droopy ears, and a thick dewlap. 

One of the key advantages of raising Zebu is that it is resistant to heat and humidity, making it well-suited to tropical climates.

Zebu has a low maintenance cost and is generally easy to care for. This ruminant is also valued for its meat and milk, which are both high in protein.

Zebu is a popular choice for farmers looking for a reliable, low-cost, and efficient livestock option.

14. Buffalo

Buffalo, also known as bison, are large, muscular ruminant animals native to North America. They can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder.

These animals are known for their thick, shaggy coats, curved horns, and imposing size. 

In the past, buffalo played a crucial role in the lives of Native American tribes, providing meat, hides, and bones for tools.

Today, domesticated buffalo are raised for their meat and milk. Buffalo meat is leaner and more flavorful than beef, while buffalo milk is richer and creamier than cow’s milk.

Due to their hardy nature and resistance to diseases, buffalo is also considered a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to cattle.

15. Kéwel

by Rainbirder is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Knowing the different types of ruminant animals and their unique characteristics is crucial as a livestock farmer or enthusiast.

One such is Kéwel, the West African Dwarf goat, a ruminant in West Africa. They are small and have a reputation for being easy to maintain. 

The Kéwel is an important part of the agriculture and food system in West Africa. They are used for their meat, milk, and skin.

The Kéwel is an excellent choice for small-scale farming because they are hardy and adaptable to different climates.

Kéwel is considered to be one of the best goats for milk production. They can produce high-quality milk with high butterfat content, which is excellent for making cheese and butter. 

Meanwhile, did you know that Kéwel goats are also used for their meat? They have tender and flavorful meat popular in West African cuisine.

Additionally, their skin is used for leather production. The Kéwel is an excellent choice for raising ruminant animals in West Africa.

16. Cow

Cow - Different Types of Ruminant Animals
by Leszek.Leszczynski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cows are one of the most commonly known types of ruminant animals, and they’re often kept on farms for milk and meat production.

These herbivorous animals are characterized by their four-chamber stomachs, allowing them to digest tough plant materials properly.

While many cows are kept in industrial agriculture settings, traditional pastoral communities around the world still raise cows for subsistence.

Interestingly, cows are also social animals known to form strong bonds with their herd members. They can also exhibit grooming, play, and empathy toward their companions.

Cows can also be trained for various purposes, such as pulling carts or plowing fields, and they have even been used for therapeutic purposes for people with special needs.


Do you have livestock on your farm or ranch, or are you considering adding them to your homestead?

If so, it is important to understand the different types of ruminant animals and the characteristics distinguishing them from other livestock types. 

Ruminants are unique animals with a four-chambered stomach that allows them to break down tough plant fibers and convert them into usable nutrition.

In this blog post, we carefully explored the different types of ruminant animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, deer, and more.

We are sure you have learned more about these remarkable creatures and how they can benefit your homestead.

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