Mastering Animal Care: A Comprehensive Guide to Feeding in Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress: How to Feed Animals


Hello! Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to feed animals in Dwarf Fortress. As one of the most important tasks in the game, understanding how to properly care for your animals is crucial for their well-being and your fortress’s success. In this article, we will delve into the strengths and weaknesses of the feeding system in Dwarf Fortress, provide detailed explanations on how to effectively feed different types of animals, and address common FAQs. So let’s jump right in!

Strengths and Weaknesses of Dwarf Fortress’ Feeding System


1. 🌱 Diverse Food Options: Dwarf Fortress offers a wide range of food choices for your animals, allowing you to cater to their specific dietary needs.

2. 🏭 Self-Sustainability: With careful planning and management, you can create a self-sustaining ecosystem within your fortress, reducing the dependency on external food sources.

3. 🔬 Realistic Animal Behavior: The game simulates realistic animal behavior, including feeding patterns, for a more immersive experience.

4. 💡 Learning Opportunity: Mastering the feeding system in Dwarf Fortress not only enhances your gameplay but also provides valuable insights into real-world animal husbandry.

5. 🧩 Customization: You have full control over the feeding setup, allowing you to tailor it according to your fortress’s specific needs and goals.

6. ⚔️ Training Potential: Properly fed animals can be trained for various purposes, such as hauling goods or defending your fortress.

7. 🌍 Community Support: Dwarf Fortress has a vibrant community that shares tips, tricks, and mods related to animal feeding, enriching your gameplay experience.


1. 💀 Learning Curve: Dwarf Fortress has a steep learning curve, and mastering the intricacies of the feeding system may require time and effort.

2. 🔀 Complexity: The feeding system can be complex, especially when dealing with a large number of animals with varying dietary requirements.

3. 💔 Mistakes Can Be Costly: Neglecting to properly feed your animals can lead to dire consequences, such as starvation, low productivity, or even animal attacks.

4. 🐾 Animal Management: Managing the movement and interactions of your animals while feeding them can be challenging, particularly in crowded fortress layouts.

5. 🔧 Limited Automation: Dwarf Fortress lacks advanced automation features, requiring more manual intervention and micromanagement for optimal animal feeding.

6. 🏞️ Environmental Factors: Factors like seasons, temperature, and availability of resources can impact the feeding process, necessitating additional planning and adaptation.

7. 🐺 Wildlife Interactions: Wild animals can pose a threat to your domesticated animals, requiring you to implement measures to protect them.

Feeding Different Types of Animals

In Dwarf Fortress, different animals have specific dietary requirements. Let’s explore how to effectively feed some of the common animal types:

1. Herbivorous Animals

Herbivorous animals, such as cows and horses, primarily consume plant-based materials. To ensure their nutritional needs are met:

🌾 Provide grazing areas with ample grass or other edible plants.

🌱 Grow crops like alfalfa, clover, or oats for supplementary feeding.

🥕 Cultivate vegetables like carrots or lettuce as an additional food source.

🍏 Stockpile fruits like apples or plums for a varied diet.

🚰 Provide fresh water sources for drinking.

2. Carnivorous Animals

Carnivorous animals, such as dogs and cats, require a diet rich in meat. Consider the following when feeding them:

🥩 Hunt wild animals or purchase meat from traders.

🍗 Butcher surplus livestock or captured creatures for a steady meat supply.

🥛 Milk can be an additional source of nutrition for certain carnivorous animals, so consider taming and milking animals like cows or goats.

💧 Provide fresh water sources for drinking.

3. Omnivorous Animals

Omnivorous animals, such as pigs and bears, have a more flexible diet. To feed them effectively:

🌾 Provide grazing areas with grass or other edible plants.

🥩 Hunt wild animals or purchase meat from traders.

🍎 Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables for added nutrition.

🥛 Milk can be an additional source of nutrition for certain omnivorous animals, so consider taming and milking animals like cows or goats.

💧 Provide fresh water sources for drinking.

Table: Summary of Animal Feeding Information

Animal TypeDietary RequirementsAdditional Notes
HerbivorousPlant-based materials, grazing areas, crops, fruits, waterConsider supplementary feeding during winter
CarnivorousMeat, milk (optional), waterButchering surplus livestock for meat supply
OmnivorousPlant-based materials, meat, fruits, milk (optional), waterFlexible diet, consider varying food sources

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can animals eat prepared meals made for dwarves?

No, animals cannot eat prepared meals made for dwarves. They have specific dietary requirements and need access to appropriate food sources.

2. How often should I feed my animals?

It is recommended to provide food for your animals at least twice a day to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

3. Can I train animals to feed themselves?

No, animals in Dwarf Fortress cannot be trained to feed themselves. You need to take responsibility for their feeding and provide suitable food sources.

4. What happens if my animals starve?

If your animals starve, they will become weakened and eventually die. Starvation can also lead to decreased productivity and potential aggression.

5. How can I prevent wild animals from attacking my domesticated animals?

To prevent wild animal attacks, ensure that your domesticated animals are housed in secure areas, such as pastures or cages. Constructing walls or installing traps can also deter wild animals.

6. Can animals eat spoiled food?

No, animals will not eat spoiled food. Make sure to regularly dispose of any rotten food to maintain a healthy feeding environment.

7. How can I efficiently manage a large number of animals?

Efficiently managing a large number of animals can be challenging. Consider organizing them into separate pastures, designating specific feeding areas, and utilizing efficient stockpile management.

8. Can animals consume alcohol?

No, animals cannot consume alcohol in Dwarf Fortress. It is exclusively for dwarves’ consumption.

9. Should I separate different animal types when feeding them?

Separating different animal types while feeding them can help prevent aggression and competition for food. Consider creating separate feeding zones or pastures for each animal type.

10. Can I trade animals for food with other civilizations?

Yes, you can trade animals with other civilizations for food. This can be a viable option for acquiring specific food items that may not be readily available in your fortress.

11. Can I use refuse as animal feed?

Yes, you can use refuse as animal feed. However, be cautious as certain refuse items may have negative effects on your animals’ health or mood.

12. Can animals eat underground-grown crops?

No, animals cannot eat crops grown underground. They require access to sunlight and open grazing areas to consume plant-based materials.

13. What should I do if I run out of suitable food for my animals?

If you run out of suitable food for your animals, prioritize acquiring or producing alternative food sources. Consider trading, hunting, or expanding your farming operations.


In conclusion, mastering the art of feeding animals in Dwarf Fortress is essential for the prosperity of your fortress. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the feeding system, tailoring the diet to each animal type, and providing suitable food sources, you can ensure the well-being and productivity of your animals. Remember to plan ahead, adapt to changing circumstances, and continually monitor their feeding needs. Happy fortress-building!

Closing Words

Thank you for joining us on this journey to explore how to feed animals in Dwarf Fortress. We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights and practical tips to enhance your gameplay experience. Remember, proper animal care is not only crucial for in-game success but also a reflection of our responsibility towards real-world animals. So go forth, nurture your animals with care, and build a thriving fortress!

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