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I had been keeping four cows in a shallow pit two blocks deep, four wide, and ten long, open to the sky, but surrounded by fences (the idea being to let me in without allowing them to wander out through the fence gate). I left them for an extended deep digging session.

On my return I find I have only one cow remaining. While staring disconsolately at my now-defunct leather farm, I noticed that a) the remaining cow eats grass from time to time (like a sheep), and b) most of the floor is actually stone, not grass, so there isn't much available.

I have sheep and chickens in identical adjacent pens. They appear to be fine (no losses). The sheep did have more grass.

I am wondering if my other cows might have starved to death, or succumbed somehow to overcrowding. Is that possible? If not, how else might they have disappeared?

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    I love the little stories that seem to get told when people ask Minecraft questions. "While staring disconsolately at my now-defunct leather farm" - awww, it made me smile but I felt bad for you :D
    – Lyrical
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 11:10
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    On Bukkit, Minecraft 1.5, I have had cows jump fences which are one (one and a half) tall. one and a half should be too tall to jump over, however, It seems that one cow would step on top of another and thus get over the fence. Making the fence 2 tall (two and a half) worked for me to prevent escape. Using fences would also prevent the suffocation glitch. I have noticed that sometimes the cow would get caught in the fence in my solution, but would not suffocate. I have no experience in suffocation glitches except with teleporting dogs. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 12:09
  • @musicwithoutpaper - Very interesting. I hadn't considered that cows might climb on one another. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 23:02

4 Answers 4

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No. Cows and other animals cannot starve to death. It's possible that some of them glitched into a wall and suffocated, but besides that, I can think of no other possible explanations.

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  • Is there a reason cows might glitch, but not sheep? Is there any possibility that mobs or maybe lightning could kill three cows? Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 19:24
  • @ire_and_curses If the pens were identical, then the only explanation that I can offer for the Sheep's survival is magic. Or possibly some sort of chunk mechanics somewhere. But more likely, magic.
    – Unionhawk
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 1:49
  • @ire_and_curses lightning would've left some tasty steak behind.
    – Timtech
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 15:36
  • @ire_and_curses You said they're in a pit, correct? With solid blocks for walls? If this was the case, then it's very likely that some of them glitched into the wall and died. It'd be bizarre for all of them to do that, but we're dealing with Minecraft mobs here....
    – Unionhawk
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 16:43
  • @Timtech - Good to know, although as an item, that could have disappeared, right? Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 16:44
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All mobs can't starve to death. Food for passive mobs just allow them to enter "mating mode". When they eat grass this does not make them go into "mate-mode". Some food (for horses) allow you to tame them more easily. What may have possible happened is that a cow may have died from suffocated like UnionHawk said. However passive mobs can also die form the following:

[Cows] also tend to jump off high cliffs and make no attempt to stay out of water. They also can climb ladders in certain conditions.

If you have any ladders to get in or out of your pen the cows may have "jumped the fence". You may have also left the gate open (which I have done several times. It stinks).

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    Though, to be clear, they don't enter "mating mode" by eating grass, but require you to manually feed them wheat.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 12:44
  • Yes I'm aware of that. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 12:56
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    Your answer sounds like you are not aware of the distinction. Consider correcting that instead of just replying with a comment and doing nothing. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 14:06
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    I have a ladder down into the pit, but I deliberately left the ladder uncompleted at the bottom block (so I have to jump to get on the ladder). Could a cow climb a ladder like that? Even if it did climb, the fence should have stopped it though, right? Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 19:25
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    @ire_and_curses Umm cows can jump. Your cows must have climbed up and when they fell they died. The Fence would not have stopped the cows if there was a ladder. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 19:37
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The same thing happened to me on the Pocket Edition. I had two cows, two sheep, two pigs, and two chickens. I put them in a 4 block tall pit that was 6x5. It was surrounded by fence at the top, and had a doorway to the surface. I heard a pig die one time. I didn't see it die though. My guess it that the animals could've glitched out and suffocated. And no, animals cannot starve to death. ^_^

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No, cows or any animals on minecraft can NOT die of starvation I had 1 sheep in a 3 block tall, 10-10 (and a few pigs an cows) I came back and SAW my sheep get stuck in a block and die and that's probably what happened to yours.

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