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This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

Pasture icon preview.png

Pastures are activity zones that the player creates to hold tame animals, especially grazing animals. Herbivorous animals require grass (or cave moss and floor fungus if stationed in underground pasturage) 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 the zone menu. Once created, you can then select which animals will graze there by clicking the rabbit icon with the yellow plus. Animals currently assigned to this pasture will have a yellow downwards arrow and a green checkmark left of them. Animals assigned to some pasture, the previously defined one or otherwise, will just have the yellow downwards arrow. 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). Note that an animal in a stockpiled cage within the defined pen/pasture area (i.e. stockpile overlaps pen/pasture zone) is considered to be within the pasture already and will not be released.

Once all animals are selected, finish by pressing Esc or right clicking and idle animal haulers will lead the animals to pasture.

Any animal may be assigned to a pasture, though wild and hostile animals won't reliably stay in one. 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 reads "Thick" on "Other Vegetation", it will regrow fast, if it read "Scarce", it may not regenerate at all. Care should be taken to ensure that grass is not consumed more quickly than it can replenish, lest your livestock begin starving - if more than half of the pasture is devoid of grass, it's probably overloaded. Of special note is the fact that mountain biomes start covered with grass (and numerous boulders), but said grass will never regrow once eaten, so when placing pastures, ensure that there are shrubs and saplings nearby, as their presence ensures that the environment is hospitable to plant (re)growth.

Baby animals born to pastured mothers will automatically be assigned to their mother's pasture, but those hatched from eggs will not.

If you need to get animals inside quickly when a siege or ambush hits, a quick way to do this is to simply make the pasture inactive (before the animals see the invaders, if possible.) Animals without a pasture tend to gravitate to a meeting area, so most of them will head to your dining hall or other rest area. An inactive pasture retains its occupant list, so all you have to do is make it active again and your dwarves will return them to their correct areas.


Main article: Overcrowding

When a pasture is overcrowded, animals may become enraged and start fights, similarly to a dwarf throwing a tantrum, which 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[edit]

Pasturing a cat in a food stockpile will make it more effective at keeping vermin away from your food (or any creature with a [HUNTS_VERMIN] or [DIVE_HUNTS_VERMIN] token).

Lots of 1x1 pastures, each with a chicken and a nest box, is a way to make a battery farm.

A pasture can serve as a quick, limited replacement for a rope or restraint, placing animals exactly in one defined area, even pets and animals assigned to dwarves. However, it does not restrict the movement of an animal; if they are threatened by an enemy, the animal will flee as normal, which will trigger a task to re-pasture the animal once it leaves the border of the pasture. Dwarves with the Animal Hauling labor enabled may then rush to put them back, probably putting themselves in danger; so maybe only enable that labor on the most durable…or replaceable.

With that in mind, pastures can serve as an early-warning system and distraction for invaders and thieves when placed just outside or inside entrances to the fortress. Of course, this can result in injury to the animals, or even their death, and tame animals that die in ways other than specifically being slaughtered cannot be butchered.

More effective ways of using pastures to get rid of unwanted animals include: placing them in chambers to be flooded (preferably with magma), in the path of certain bridges, or in battle arenas to face captured foes. Beware that the death of pets will likely cause unhappy thoughts for their owners.


  • Grass does not grow back on mountain biomes.Bug:4164
  • Baby animals hatched from eggs are not automatically assigned to the mother's pasture.Bug:5990
  • During a civilian alert, only tiles within the defined burrow are eligible for grazing. Animals confined to pastures outside the civilian alert burrow will starve to death while standing on dense grass.Bug:6240 Since the removal of the alert system in v50 this is no longer relevant.