I've started acquiring animals to breed and use for food / hunting, but they keep starving. How do I feed captured/caged animals?

  • Which animals? Elephants and Rhinos are literally too big to survive. Even eating every turn, they will still slowly starve to death. Draltha also have a tendency to starve, but they can sometimes, barely, squeak by. A long way from the murderous Carp and Elephant-plagued nightmares of Dwarf Fortress past. Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 23:19
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    @Raven Dreamer, btw, how to see if some animal is a bit hungry? I don't want to see starving effects only when they already almost dead.
    – Nakilon
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 2:01
  • @Nakilon - the same way you can tell with dwarves -- a brown downwards arrow that intermittently flashes. Commented May 26, 2011 at 3:44
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    @Nakilon you can also check the health screen (using z to go to the status screen, and then selecting the health tab). Animals that are hungry wil show up here, and this will also show if they are starving.
    – bcpettifer
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


If you're running a version at or newer than 31.19, herbivorous animals now require a pen/pasture with grasses for them to eat (i, n, then Shift + n to assign animals). Grasses grow on above-ground and cavern soil spaces, and grew on any soil space in versions before 31.21.

If the pasture isn't big enough to regrow grass before they eat enough of it, your animals will starve, so you will either need to rotate your animals between different pastures to give them time to regrow or make the pasture big enough to begin with. Some animals, like Yak, are very heavy grazers, and will require sizable pastures to keep from starving. As far as I know it is not possible to feed a caged animal, corroborated by the fact that there is no way to gather grasses in the first place.

Also, once food starts becoming scarce or they are simply kept in an area too small, animals will begin fighting with each other, which will generate combat reports.

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    Every single incremental improvement like this (pastures!) drags me back into playing Dwarf Fortress. I have such a love/hate relationship with it...
    – ropable
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 7:33
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    Also worth noting it has to be ACTIVE! I've had two animals die, and couldn't figure out why none of my dwarves would take them to pasture.
    – aslum
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 0:35

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