Functions of various parts of the digestive tract: Mouth, Oesophagus

The primary function of the mouth include prehension (grasping), mastication (chewing), and mixing of feed with saliva as preparatory steps for subsequent digestion in the remaining parts of the alimentary canal. The lips, tongue, and teeth are used to pick and hold feed while it is in the mouth. The teeth grind the feed, and the tongue mixes it with saliva. The lips of sheep, goats, and horses are flexible, while those of cattle and buffaloes are relatively stiff and immobile. In horses, the upper lip is very sensitive and mobile and is used to feel the feed and direct it towards the moouth. Horses also have both upper and lower incisors which cut herbage like scissors and help in prehension. The mastication of feed with grinding molars is also very efficient in horses. In cattle, buffaloes, and sheep, the upper incisors are absent. Instead, they have a hard pad called the dental pad. During grazing, the tongue is used to guide feed into the mouth, and plants are grasped between the dental pad and lower incisors and torn away.
Saliva is a watery solution containing small amounts of mucin, inorganic salts and enzymes. It is secreted into the mouth from three pairs of salivary glands (paratoid, sub-maxillary, and sub-lingual). Secretion of saliva increases during mastication of feed. Cattle and buffaloes produce 130 - 200 litres, sheep and goats 2 - 3 litres, and horses 10 - 12 litres of saliva per day. Saliva lubricates the ingested feed and thus facilitates swallowing. It also helps in maintaining optimum pH in the rumen and provides a mechanism for recycling urea in ruminants.
This is a muscular tube extending from the back of the mouth (pharynx) to the stomach. Ingested feed is forced through the oesophagus by its wavelike muscular contractions.

(Note: In next Post, find about Function of stomach in digestive system of farm animals)