So I'm playing on a server that lets you purchase cow spawners for a whole lot of money. I wanted to make a sort of cow collecter, like a half of a mob grinder just so I can hit them with a sword without having to move.

My setup looks like this: https://i.sstatic.net/1djWm.jpg

The obsidian is to deter tnting.

My question is, why won't it spawn cows? It spawned three so far before I added water, but all in the exact same place on the far corner in the picture on top of that grass block.

Anybody know how to make this thing work? Do I need to take the water out and run around after these things manually? Or take out the lights?

EDIT: I raised the grass up one level and got rid of the water, and that made them spawn. I'm still looking into a way to collect them all somewhere so I can afk and then smack them around from time to time. I'm going to try water on top of signs over the field and see if that still lets them spawn.

  • you may need to raise the grass a bit Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 19:10
  • have you tried removing all the torches? I feel its something with the light level.
    – Rapitor
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 19:11
  • I tried removing the torches, but then they didn't spawn at all. I asked the server and one guy said they need light. Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 19:16
  • Is it possible the grass needs to be higher? I know that the way I have it set up is perfect fro zombies and skeletons and the like, but mobs could be different? Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 19:17
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    If you want to grind cows, it would be faster for you to breed them than to wait for them to spawn. Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


Cows only spawn on grass, even if they're coming from a mob spawner. You need to surround the spawner with a nice 9x9 field to get maximum output. If you still want water you'll have to elevate the streams on signs so that it will still push cows but the grass doesn't decay to dirt.


I scienced up some cow spawners to demonstrate this, and to test whether water streams were a viable transport method. You can see the initial results here:

enter image description here

As you can see, both the spawners on grass spawn cows, but the one on sand to the left has spawned no cows, despite being created first. Note that the top-right spawner is floating 1 block in the air and it's spawning cows just fine.

Apart from the need for grass and light, the normal spawner-block rules apply:

  • Only air blocks 1 above, on the level with, and 1 below the spawner are valid spawn locations. (Note that the extra need to be on a grass block means that unlike other spawners, cows will not spawn in mid-air, so only 1 vertical layer of the normal 3 actually spawns cows.)
  • Mobs spawn in an 8x8 area centred on the NW corner of the spawner block. (I've done 9x9 paddocks in the demonstration because I couldn't be bothered with the weird "centre" of spawner blocks.)
  • The spawner will not generate any new mobs so long as there are any of the same type in a 17×9×17 area centred on the same corner of the spawner block.

Making a collection point

Testing showed that cows need two vertical transparent, non-fluid blocks above a grass block in order for it to be a legal spawn location. You have have the spanwer entirely enclosed an even dark, and cows will spawn so long as there is a two-block height clearance they can fit in. For whatever reason, fluids are the exception, so flows are hard to use for collection.

Dan Rasmussen's idea to use a piston to release water flows on a timer does work, and is more efficient than waiting for cows to fall into a water-flow moat. A long timer is necessary though, since if the grass is covered in water when the spawner "puffs", there will be no cow and that spawn opportunity is wasted. The tick also has to be long enough to shuttled any cows to your collection pit.

Shot of a long-tick timer, the piston gate for water, and the stepped paddock.

You'll notice I've made the grass paddock stepped – this is to allow the flow from one source block to continue all the way to the far corner. You can try different designs with multiple source blocks, or simply make the paddock smaller. The bottom-right of that picture is the collection pit.

The pit itself only has to be 10 blocks below the spawner to get the cows far enough away.

Paddock without water, showing the stepped design better and giving another angle on the piston.

As a drop collection, they also take enough damage at 11 blocks to be one-hit kills. This design doesn't allow fast continuous spawning, but it's fast enough that you get cows faster than by breeding them, and with no effort apart from sitting AFK. I was getting a cow every five seconds or so with this design. Using an asymmetrical timer (so that the dry period is long enough to spawn all six cows, but the wet period is only long enough to push them all into the pit) might increase efficiency at the cost of complexity.

  • 2
    Alternatively, place water behind pistons so you can let cows spawn, flip a switch and grind them all, then shut the water off and spawn more.
    – dlras2
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 19:54
  • 1
    @Dan Water destroys grass pretty quickly though, so that would considerably impair the spawner until all the grass grows back. Personally, I wouldn't bother with water since its easy enough to run around a small enclosure to slaughter everything. Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 19:59
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    It's true for cow spawners too. My sign idea doesn't work (they don't rise up, so they drown), so I'm pondering other designs. Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 21:54
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    If memory serves, cows are taller than one block, meaning you could add a series of sticky pistons with pressure plates that would "encourage" the cows to go into the moat. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:22
  • 1
    @ChargingPun They are. But how would you arrange them to not block the skylight to the grass blocks? Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:03

You can set up something like, you put two grass blocks with pressure plates on them and the cows will still spawn on the pixels of grass that are left, like the pressure plates up to Pistons a block higher and it will push the cow down.

It would look like this:

[] Spawner []
-- Spawner --

[]= Piston
--=Pressure plate

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