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I want to know if I have to hit the zombie as a player for the head to drop, or if I can just build a mob dropper and pick them up.

The only mention of the zombie head from the wiki is by electrified creeper explosion in the common section. https://minecraft.wiki/w/Drops

The wither skeleton drop is defined as a rare only on the zombie head wiki page, but there is no definition of whether a player needs to hit the zombie for the head to drop. https://minecraft.wiki/w/Zombie_Head

Is there some official page, or in game code that defines whether the zombie needs to be hit for the head to drop?

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In order to get a zombie skull, that zombie needs to get blown up by a charged creeper. There is no other way, in vanilla Minecraft, to obtain skulls of zombies, skeletons, or creepers.

In other words, no. You cannot obtain zombie heads from a simple mob system, or even an experience grinder.

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The zombie must be killed by a charged creeper,no matter if the player hit the zombie within 5 seconds.Note that a single zombie head will be dropped by the blast of a charged creeper,no matter how many zombies were there.

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The zombie must be killed by a charged creeper,as will the skeleton and creeper heads. although if the charged creeper kills multiple zombies, you would only get one head per explosion, same with creepers and skeletons. Also, if the charged creeper kills 2 different mobs you would get only 1 of 2 of the mob heads.

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