Pastures are activity zones that the player creates to hold tame animals, especially grazing animals. Herbivorous animals require grass, cave moss, or floor fungus to graze upon, and larger herbivores need a greater amount of these to feed themselves. Pandas and their relatives require bamboo rather than other types of grass. Using pastures allows herbivorous animals to be restricted to areas where they will have plenty to eat.
A pasture is defined using- to draw a rectangle, and then animals are selected to graze. Having pressed to define a zone, highlight the pasture and press ( + ), select the animal(s) you wish to pasture using / , and press . Animals currently assigned to this pasture will have a green plus symbol to the left of them. Animals assigned to some pasture, this one or otherwise, will have a green triple-line symbol to the right of them. If the brackets surrounding this triple-line are white, the animal is currently pastured; if they're grey, the animal has not yet been brought to pasture, or still needs to be moved to a different pasture. If the brackets contain the 'cage' symbol (‼), it means that animal is currently caged. If that animal is selected for this pasture, they will be automatically uncaged and brought to the pasture by a dwarf (this is actually a good way to get animals you bought from a merchant uncaged quickly, without having to actually build the cage somewhere first).
Once all animals are selected, finish by pressingand idle dwarves will lead the animals to pasture. Contrary to a common misconception, this task is not an animal hauling job and will be performed by any adult civilian regardless of labors enabled.
Any tame animal may be assigned to a pasture. You can also create pastures inside (on rock) and use them to confine animals that do not need to eat (like pigs) in certain areas. If there is fungus or moss on your indoor floors (e.g. on soil after breaching the caverns), the animals will consume that in place of grass.
Grass on your pastures will replenish at different speeds, depending on biome; If on embark the biome read "Thick" on "Other Vegetation" it will regrow fast, if it read "Scarce", it may not regenerate at all.
Baby animals born to pastured mothers will automatically be assigned to their mother's pasture.
 Grazing animals and pasture size
Grazing animals use the [GRAZER:<value>] token to signify how much grass they need to eat. This is an inverse number - the value in grazer signifies how much hunger is reduced when eating a unit of grass. A creature with ten times the grazer value needs one tenth the amount of grass (and hence, pasture land) as a creature with a small grazer value. If you started your fortress in an undead biome, you may need to assign more space for a pasture as much of the grass is dead. Animals will not eat dead grass and will only eat the still living patches.
Animals which graze are typically good livestock candidates, as many of them can be milked and 3 also can be sheared for wool. Creatures with larger sizes consume more grass, but also produce more meat when butchered.
Each time unit adds one point to hunger. An animal takes an average of one turn per ten time units, and takes one time unit to eat grass. If there were an unlimited amount of grass on a tile, even animals with [GRAZER:1] would be able to feed themselves, however, there are at most 4 bunches of grass. Therefore, a creature of standard speed and agility with [GRAZER:3] would not be able to survive, and creatures with [GRAZER:4] require a constant source of grass (in other words infinite sized pastures) to survive. In practice, anything with [GRAZER:20] or less is completely incapable of feeding itself. Because of this, the larger creatures like dralthas are virtually impossible to keep fed, and elephants are incapable of feeding themselves fast enough to stave off starvation. Bug:4113
If grazing animals consume all the grass on a tile, the tile will be reverted to the base layer material. This may be sand, clay or soil. In this way you receive a visual clue as to the size of the pasture required.
When a pasture is overcrowded, animals may become enraged and start fights. This behavior is similar to a dwarf throwing a tantrum, and can be prevented by enlarging your pasture or keeping fewer animals in it.
Another possibility is to split a large pasture which holds many animals into several smaller pastures, with the pasture size reflecting the amount of grazing the animal needs to survive. Animals will only fight each other if their pasture is sharing the same tiles as the creature they are fighting with.
 Other Applications
A pasture can serve as a quite limited replacement for a rope or restraint, as it allows you to "tie" multiple animals to the same spot and even allows you to place pets and animals assigned to dwarves. It does however not actually tie animals; see below.
This can be used to (not very safely) get rid of immigrant pets or cat infestations by pasturing them outside the fortress to serve as an early warning system and meatshield or by pasturing them inside a room that then gets accidentally filled with magma. This procedure will cause unhappy thoughts in owners and spam "assign to pasture" jobs when you want them least: When the animals are running away from invaders or even a meager thief, most of them escaping death:
While a pasture is a quick way of placing animals exactly in one defined area, it does not restrict the movement of an animal--if they are threatened by an enemy, the animal will flee as normal, and will trigger a task to re-pasture the animal once it leaves the border of the pasture. This is important as the announcement of an ambush may trigger a flood of civilians rushing to the pasture and into the face of the enemy. Since the labor has no associated skill, you cannot govern who will take such a job, but you can cancel those jobs by e.g. temporarily deactivating the pasture zone.
 List of grazing animals
Take the following numbers with a grain of salt; they ignore the differing abilities of various biomes to replenish grass. Usually you can get along with way smaller pastures. Nevertheless, a fairly large herd can cause overgrazing fast, keep an eye out for hungry animals and desolate grassless areas.
|Milkable||Shearable|| Minimal Pasture Size|
|Elephant||12||5,000,000||Cannot Self Feed (Graze Value <= 20)|
|Rhinoceros||20||3,000,000||Cannot Self Feed (Graze Value <= 20)|
|Giant bull moose||23||4,257,750||29 x 29|
|Draltha||24||2,500,000||29 x 29|
|Giant moose cow||38||2,554,650||28 x 28|
|Water buffalo||60||1,000,000||Yes||18 x 18|
|Giraffe||60||1,000,000||18 x 18|
|Yak||85||700,000||Yes||16 x 16|
|Gigantic panda||92||1,160,900||N/A (only eat bamboo, will starve without it)|
|Cow||100||600,000||Yes||14 x 14|
|Unicorn||100||600,000||14 x 14|
|Bull moose||114||525,000||14 x 14|
|Horse||120||500,000||Yes||13 x 13|
|Camel (both)||120||500,000||Yes||13 x 13|
|Giant capybara||133||523,350||13 x 13|
|Mule||150||400,000||12 x 12|
|Cow moose||190||315,000||11 x 11|
|Donkey||200||300,000||Yes||10 x 10|
|Elk||200||300,000||10 x 10|
|Muskox||210||285,000||10 x 10|
|Giant red panda||255||235,100||N/A (only eat bamboo, will starve without it)|
|Tapir||300||200,000||Yes||9 x 9 ?|
|Llama||333||180,000||Yes||Yes||8 x 8|
|Deer||428||140,000||7 x 7|
|Reindeer||461||130,000||Yes||7 x 7|
|Panda||462||130,000||N/A (only eat bamboo, will starve without it)|
|Warthog||600||100,000||6 x 6|
|Elk bird||600||100,000||6 x 6|
|Kangaroo||667||90,000||Yes||6 x 6|
|Alpaca||857||70,000||Yes||Yes||5 x 5|
|Goat||1,200||50,000||Yes||4 x 4|
|Mountain goat||1,200||50,000||4 x 4|
|Ibex||1,200||50,000||4 x 4|
|Impala||1,200||50,000||4 x 4|
|Sheep||1,200||50,000||Yes||Yes||4 x 4|
|Capybara||1,333||45,000||4 x 4|
|Wombat||2,308||25,000||3 x 3 ?|
|Gazelle||3,000||20,000||3 x 3|
|Hoary marmot||6,000||10,000||2 x 2|
|Red panda||12,000||5,000||N/A (only eat bamboo, will starve without it)|
|Hare||17,143||3,500||1 x 1 ?|
|Groundhog||20,000||3,000||1 x 1|
|Cavy||75,000||800||1 x 1 (can feed up to 3 cavies)|
|Rabbit||120,000||500||1 x 1 (can feed up to 5 rabbits)|
The following giant animals do not modify the grazer token inherited from their parents and are bugged to eat less than their size would indicate.
|Milkable||Shearable|| Minimal Pasture Size|
|Giant tapir||300||1,700,000||Yes||9 x 9 ?|
|Giant kangaroo||667||857,700||Yes||6 x 6|
|Giant ibex||1,200||560,000||4 x 4|
|Giant impala||1,200||560,000||4 x 4|
|Giant wombat||2,308||377,750||3 x 3 ?|
|Giant hare||17,143||224,560||1 x 1 ?|