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Recently I kept receiving announcements such as The Stray Donkey (Tame) has been missing for a week. At first I thought maybe they just strayed off, but I've lost six animals so far, and I think I'd better take some effort to figure out what's going on to prevent further loss.

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The pasture is placed at the edge of the map. Usually my dwarves don't go to that area, which somehow contributed to the lack of witnesses. Currently I only have one ten-dwarf squad, should I station them near the pasture to monitor it?

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Where have my animals gone? How can I find them back?

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They have gone to live on a farm with all their friends.

Without euphemisms, a missing animal is already dead. An animal or dwarf is missing if it has died, and no dwarf has seen the body.

There are various ways they could have died. I noticed that your missing animals are grazers (herbivores). A grazing animal will starve if left in a cage, or if there is no grass left in its pasture. With the pasture at the edge of the map, a random enemy (goblin, werebeast, predatory animal) may have killed your livestock after coming onto the map. Although less likely in your case, the victim may have dodged of a cliff or into a river.

Relevant quote from the wiki:

The announcement of the missing (after one week) or dead (after a dwarf sees their corpse) status of a dwarf or tame creature.

And more explicit quote in relevant thread on the official forum

If your animals are killed and no dwarf sees the bodies, then they are declared missing the same as a dwarf.

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