Female versions of certain animals are milkable. In order to perform milking, you must have a dwarf with the Milking labor active, a farmer's workshop, an empty bucket and a mature, non-pet, milkable animal.Confirmed to be milkable:
- Camel, both one-humped and two-humped.
- Purring maggot
- Water buffalo
Order your Farmer's workshop to Milk Creature. The milker will not necessarily pick the closest animal available. Caging, pasturing or restraining the milkable creatures near the workshop might be a good idea, but is not mandatory. The animal must also have milk available.
Milk will eventually be transferred from its bucket into a barrel or large pot for long-term storage. If you plan to make cheese, it's a good idea to let the milk accumulate so that you get stacks of cheese (up to size 5) instead of single (size 1) cheeses.
You cannot use [R]epeat to alternate between Milk Creature and Make Cheese if you only have one animal available to milk. Setting up two workshops (one for Milk Creature (R) and the other for Make Cheese (R)) works fairly well.
Once milked, the creature will be free to roam. If the creature was previously caged, pastured or restrained, some dwarf will be assigned the job of taking it back.
The frequency with which animals are able to be milked is marked in the RAW files with the tag [MILKABLE:LOCAL_CREATURE_MAT:MILK:20000]. In this case, it is a cow and the time period is 20000 ticks, at roughly 1200 ticks per day. All creatures currently have this tag set to 20000, so there is no reason to favor one milkable creature over another from this point of view, other than preference.
Because milk is considered a food and not a drink, dwarves will not drink it, even if they are dying of thirst.
An excellent strategy at embark is to take a minimum of 1 of each kind of milk. Milk costs only 1 point at embark and comes with a separate barrel for each type, effectively giving you free barrels.
- After finishing a milking job, the milker may generate a cancellation message if trying to take another job immediately: Urist McMultitasking cancels job, handling dangerous animal. They will subsequently just leave the milked animal to wander away on its own and retask anyway.
- It is unclear why pets cannot be milked; this seems to be a bug because milking is a requirement for some animals and presumably the Animal Care dwarf would be aware of this and oversee their regular milking. Perhaps there should be an option to assign a cage or restraint to milking so that it will be used automatically for pet animals?
- Tamed purring maggots can't be milked. Bug:3670
- After being milked, purring maggots are left inside the workshop as an item. Bug:3668