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I've got a reasonably flourishing village with decent population and all the amenities. However, lately I've been having severe issues because my tame animals keep breaking into the food warehouse and eating the Fine Meals that I'm trying to stack up so that my regular villagers can eat and not complain about eating raw potato.

I do have a job detailed to make kibble as long as there's less than 300 kibble, but apparently it's not enough to keep my cats and dogs happy.

Should I start culling/slaughtering excess cats/dogs, or are there better ways to get my animals to stick to animal food and not people food?

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3 Answers 3

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Animals can be assigned zones on the animal tab and, unlike in real life, they will stick to them. When creating the zone, make sure there's at least one tile between the zone and the food otherwise the animals will stand on the tile next to the food and eat it. Assign your pets to a zone that includes colonist areas but doesn't allow them into sterile areas or your food and drug storage. Put a high-priority stockpile of kibble somewhere in it and the animals will eat from that.

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    When creating the zone, make sure there's at least one tile between the zone and the food, otherwise the animals will stand on the tile next to the food and eat it. I also personally like to have a fresh stranger-only corpse pile in the animal zone, so carnivores can eat the human meat the yellow-bellied colonists won't eat. Aug 30, 2019 at 14:52
  • The animals do not stand on an adjacent tile and eat food, you do not need an additional border. Eating is assigned just like any other job (e.g. hauling); the system only checks if item is in the allowed area and if there is a path between them (even if that path itself goes out of bounds for the allowed area! Pathing doesn't care about allowed zones)
    – Flater
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:15
  • An example of when the one-tile border matters is when you zone animals not to go in your fields. When your colonists harvest at the edge of the field, sometimes they leave the harvested food outside the field zone. So if you don't have animals zoned away with a one-tile border around your fields, they can pick off that food that ends up just outside the field.
    – Kyralessa
    Apr 6, 2021 at 10:40
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In the current version of the game, most animals live in pens instead of zones. A pen consists:

  • Enclosure: Fencing, walls, mountains.
  • A pen marker
  • Optionally, one or more gates or doors.

So to keep animals from eating your people food, build a pen and put them in it, and don't put any people food in the pen. (You can click on the pen marker to specify which animals are allowed in that pen.)

You can still designate storage zones in the pen to hold food for the animals (such as kibble or hay), and you can also put shelves out there for that purpose.

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An advanced answer: yes you'll want to put animals inside a pen (previously animal zone), especially the herbivores who can eat free grass during warmer seasons (or all year round in a warm biome).

But you usually don't want your intelligent animals (usually carnivores) penned up, in case you aim to teach them hauling, which is super useful. If you restrict the area for an animal trained in hauling, then it won't help out with hauling.

My solution to this is: make sure all hauling animals get a sleeping spot. Then near that animal sleeping area, put up fridges containing throw-away food or suitable food. Stuff like kibble, raw "mystery meat", corpses or hay. Animals most often eat after they wake up in the morning, having slept on an empty stomach or gotten hungry over night.

Similarly, you could place such fridges in the outskirts of your human dining area, so that a hungry animal will go to the animal fridge before the human food. They only care about shortest path and make no difference between cooked food, raw food and kibble. They will however respect "do not use" status of a food item. And as for the humans, they will pick cooked food before raw.

Even if you have smart herbivores like elephants or thrubo that can be taught hauling, I wouldn't recommend training them for hauling/keeping them roaming free, because in addition to kitchen raids, they will also munch up your planted fields and orchards. You can still combat train them and keep them in a pen though, as long as you assign them to guard a human. When that human is drafted for combat, the penned animal will no longer respect the pen boundaries but come to assist, then go back to the pen once the human is undrafted. It might stop to raid the fields/kitchen on its way back to the pen, however, unless it finds some tasty grass nearby.

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