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Profession Farmer
Job Title Butcher
Labor Butchery

Butcher's shop

  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Endurance
  • Kinesthetic Sense
This article is about the current version of DF.

Butchers do the dirty job of killing tame animals and processing animal corpses, skeletons and body parts for meat, fat, skin, bones, skulls, and many other objects at the butcher's shop.

Fortress mode[edit]

The work of a butcher is divided into two distinct categories: butchering and slaughtering. While both produce the same results (food and raw materials), they have distinctly different inputs - butchering is done on dead wild creatures (and takes a significant amount of time to perform), while slaughtering is done on live tame/trained creatures (and is instantaneous).

To slaughter an animal, do one of the following:

  • go into view mode, place the cursor on the animal, go to the preferences page and press s to flag (or un-flag) the animal for slaughtering
  • go to the z (Status) screen, then the Animals page, select the animal and press b to flag (or un-flag) for slaughter.

Only tame/trained creatures can be slaughtered. If you have a wild animal in a cage that you want to butcher, just assign a trainer to it and mark it for butchering at the same time. The trainer will feed the animal, taming it, and the butcher will immediately come and lead the animal to the block. Any adopted pets are exempt (and will be automatically undesignated if they happen to be adopted while being led to the chopping block).

Assuming you have enabled "Auto slaughter" in your workshop orders, a butcher will then walk up to the animal, lead it to a butcher's shop, then strike down the creature. As mentioned above, slaughtering living animals is instantaneous - the moment the dwarf sets foot in the workshop, the animal dies and its body is split into individual parts. If "auto slaughter" is disabled in workshop orders, then nothing at all will happen, since the "slaughter animal" job cannot be added manually.

If the "Auto butcher" order is enabled, then any valid corpse located either in a stockpile or within 43 squares of a butcher's shop will be automatically queued for butchering. During this job, the butcher will pick up the corpse, haul it to the workshop, and then slowly process it into individual parts at a speed based on skill level and clutter (which can take a long time for particularly large creatures such as forgotten beasts). If a hunter successfully kills his target, he will haul the corpse and place it directly inside an appropriate butcher's shop, but unless your butcher happens to be idle at the moment, the corpse will likely be removed from the workshop and placed in a stockpile.

Certain exceptionally large species of vermin, creepy crawlers in particular, can also be butchered for a small amount of meat. Any caught live ones are automatically queued for butchering: a dwarf will carry an animal trap containing one to a butcher's shop and butcher the vermin inside as if it were a corpse. Only live untamed vermin can be butchered this way, dwarves will not butcher tame ones or the remains of one.

Dwarves will not butcher the corpses of sapient creatures (due to the [EAT_SAPIENT_OTHER:UNTHINKABLE] ethic), and the corpses of tame creatures cannot be butchered (they must be slaughtered while still alive).

The type and number of objects produced from butchering a creature varies greatly, since not all creatures have the same parts. See each animal's page for a breakdown of what happens when you break that animal down.

Note that while a butcher's shop also has the "Extract from dead animal" task, this requires a certain type of living trapped vermin, and it is not done by a butcher, but by an Animal dissector.

Adventurer mode[edit]

How to butcher in adventurer mode:

  1. If the corpse is in your inventory, drop it or equip it by removing it.
  2. If the corpse is on the ground, move onto its tile.
  3. Equip a cutting implement or, alternatively, drop it on your tile. This can be any object with a sharp edge (i.e.has an EDGE attack type), from bladed weapons and tools, up to bolts and sharpened rocks.
  4. Press x to open the action menu. Then select "butcher", press and select the corpse that you want to butcher, press again and pick the tool that you want to use.
    Butchery adv action menu.PNG

You will then proceed to butcher the corpse, dropping all of the products on your tile; also note that small animals, like ravens, cannot be butchered.

The tool used for butchery will also be covered in the blood of the creature being butchered. Ergo, butchering certain creatures can have fun results.

Effect of skill[edit]

A butcher's skill affects the speed of butchery, which can be important for processing a large number of corpses before they begin to rot. Note that butcher shops can become cluttered quickly, because most animals create a large number of different items of different categories when butchered, so make sure that you have nearby stockpiles for refuse, raw hides, meat, prepared organs and fat. To minimize the amount of miasma created in case the rotting parts are not removed fast enough, a butcher's shop should always be blocked by a door.

Of course, placing the butcher's shop outside will prevent any and all miasma generated by rotting, but the dwarves won't haul the inedible parts away unless their global orders allow to "gather refuse from outside" (o-r-o)


If your butcher keeps cancelling jobs with "Needs butcherable unrotten nearby item", check the following:

  • The corpse isn't rotten
  • The corpse is in a stockpile, or within 20 tiles of the butcher shop
  • The corpse is large enough for butchering
  • The corpse wasn't sapient, tame or trained
  • Your butcher can access the corpse and workshop
  • The butcher workshop is restricted to a burrow that doesn't provide access to corpses
  • The corpse isn't currently tasked for a job (such as hauling to a stockpile)
  • The corpse doesn't belong to an animal that is so small, it can't be butchered.Bug:0874

Butchering sapients[edit]

MOD This page includes mods. The content is not part of normal DF as released. Changing game files can sometimes cause unexpected results, and should always be done with care and caution.

In the current version of the game, it isn't possible to butcher sapient creatures due to dwarven ethics forbidding it. In addition, the game is currently programmed to force the player (regardless of race or game mode) to not be able to use the returns of a butchered sapient creature (i.e. you can't eat goblin meat in adventurer mode, regardless of if you're playing a dwarf or an elf or an alligator man)Bug:9171. Discussion on the subject may be found in this Bay 12 forums thread.

While it is possible to mod ethics to allow the butchering of sapients for the dwarven civilization, ethics itself only plays its role during world generation, meaning you still won't get the option to butcher sapients in actual gameplay. The only way to reliably butcher sapients and use their returns is with the utility DFHack, as demonstrated here. Or you can simply eat the bones if the corpse has rotted away.


  • A dead tame animal that was not slaughtered cannot be butchered.Bug:1180 This includes tame animals killed due to age, starvation, or combat.
  • Dwarves will not disassemble (butcher) skeletons of sentient creatures for their bones.Bug:1180
  • Butchering returns of sentient creatures are unusable, regardless of adventurer's ethics.Bug:9171
  • Some animals can be too small to be butchered, such as buzzards, rabbits, and barn owls.Bug:0874

See also[edit]

"Butcher" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: lokast
Elvish: uwale
Goblin: slust
Human: rashcat