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I've built a fenced area in Minecraft in which cows, pigs and over wildlife I intend to congregate. Only problem, how can I make them happy? In that they quite often bounce by the fence, wanting to get out. Any recommendations? enter image description here

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    I approve of this question – CruelCow Jun 17 '11 at 22:38
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    @CruelCrow I approve of you. – chandsie Jun 18 '11 at 2:12
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Cows (along with all passive mobs) have no AI other than "wander". They will blissfully stumble head-first into lava if given the chance.

As of Beta 1.6.6, there is no way to encourage Passive Mobs to stick around; even "happy" cows will disappear into the ether if you wander far enough away that the chunk gets unloaded from Memory.

On the other hand, fence-escaping can simply be halted by making the fence taller.

Edit:

As of Beta 1.8, passive mobs no longer despawn. If you fence a cow, sheep, or pig, and keep them safe from wolves / aggressive mobs, they should stay fenced-in indefinitely.

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    I was hoping to create a massive field full of cows and pigs, then make friends with a wolf and let them go crazy! – wonea Jun 18 '11 at 0:12
  • @Wonea - However, Wolves won't attack passive mobs unless you attack them first. – Raven Dreamer Jun 18 '11 at 0:25
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    If mass murder is your objective, I'd recommend using TooManyItems to spawn in a load of pig spawners. You can quickly amass hundreds of pigs this way. Also, much more efficient than wolves: TNT. – fredley Jun 18 '11 at 9:42
  • Can fences themselves be made taller? Or do you mean using other blocks (as in the dirt blocks pictured)? – Cyclops Sep 23 '11 at 14:42
  • @Cyclops - I think as of 1.8 you can place blocks directly on top of fences. Alternatively, the pre 1.8 way of making fences is by starting from the top - place a row of fence blocks at the highest altitude you want, then dig out the blocks underneath them, putting another fence in the vacated space. Continue until you have a fence of the desired length. – Raven Dreamer Sep 23 '11 at 15:27
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You can prevent the cows bouncing by simply making the fence taller. Their pathing AI seems to think they can make what should be a one block jump; however, the fences' unusual collision check ends up blocking them. Thus, they start bouncing whenever they wander near.

You can't make them stay though, they will despawn eventually (as of 1.6.6).

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