|This article is about the current version of DF.|
Dwarves may be alcoholics, but a dwarf cannot live on drink alone; they also need food. Hungry dwarves are indicated by a flashing brown arrow. Unfed dwarves will progress from hunger to starvation and, ultimately, to death.
Mechanics of eating and hunger
Dwarves require about 2 units of food each season. Dwarves that go without food will do the obvious: become increasingly hungry, work more slowly, become more and more unhappy, and eventually die of starvation. Hungry dwarves that cannot get at fortress resources will steal food from any caravans that arrive; the merchants do not particularly care, but it is added to their expenses when the caravan leaves the map. Additionally, when starving, dwarves will catch and consume vermin to survive, resulting in an unhappy thought.
Dwarves will forgo food, drink, and sleep for a while to complete tasks they are currently performing; how long they will go on depends on their personality, but dwarves will generally not knowingly endanger their lives to finish a job. Dwarves without a current job will perform these activities if they are even a little thirsty, hungry, or drowsy, and will only snap to "No job" once they have done so. The only task that can actually lead to death by preventing a dwarf from covering their vital necessities is a mother trying to find her infant[Verify].
Dwarves who don't get enough exercise will quickly become fat, a change that can only be seen by examining their thoughts and preferences screen. Not surprisingly, fat dwarves are slower at moving around, but the extra fat provides additional insulation from extreme temperatures, a small amount of additional protection against attacks, and longer "burn time" when exposed to fire. A dwarf's fat stores are depleted by the mere fact of existing, but this happens very slowly. As a dwarf becomes hungrier, they use up more fat, and will die when their reserves are completely exhausted. Fat dwarves can be made fit by giving them more physical and less intellectual things to do; a hauling regimen works wonders, for instance, and leaves the player wondering why it's so hard for people to shed weight in real life, when all they have to do is move stone from place to place.
Hunger increments by 1 during each game tick (i.e. 1200 per day, 33,600 per month, 403,200 per year). This rate doubles if the dwarf is a mother carrying her child. When it reaches certain thresholds, the following things happen.
- 40000 - dwarf starts considering getting something to eat (1/120 chance per tick) if idle
- 45000 - dwarf decides to go get something to eat if idle
- 50000 - dwarf starts flashing "Hungry"
- 65000 - dwarf gets an unhappy thought about being hungry, cancels current job to get something to eat
- 75000 - dwarf starts flashing "Starving", begins hunting for vermin
- 85000 - dwarf gets an unhappy thought about being starving
- 100000 - dwarf starts burning stored fat; when this is completely depleted, the dwarf dies of starvation
Completing an Eat job decreases the relevant counter by 50,000 (to a minimum of zero), though they may also decrement it additional times during the job's progress.
Prior to version 0.31.07 (and going all the way back to the 2D versions), the unhappy thoughts resulting from hunger/thirst/drowsiness occurred at the exact same time that the dwarf started flashing, but all of the other numbers were otherwise the same. Additionally, in earlier versions (most notably 40d and earlier) dwarves cancelled jobs for food/drink/sleep much more readily.
There are a number of good and bad thoughts associated with food. Food cooked from or consisting of ingredients the dwarf likes will generate a happy thought. High-quality food will improve this happy thought, making a good cook a valuable addition to the fort.
Dining in a high-quality setting will also bring a happy thought, making a legendary dining room an easy way to bring up happiness.
On the other hand, eating the same food over and over again will make the dwarf tire of it, and they will crave new dining. Having a particularly limited dining selection will cause this thought to manifest, more likely early in a fortress's life. For this reason, it is important to get your food industry running, to provide more of a selection to the dwarves. Additional food of most categories can also be purchased from a caravan.
Food can be divided into several food groups; the state of the fortress's food reserves can be seen on the status screen, with the 2 important groups being 'drink' and 'other' (includes prepared meals). Any sort of accurate count will require a bookkeeper. The same goes for the -stocks screen that gives a fully detailed overview.
- Plants can be farmed or gathered, and are also the only food group besides honey that can be processed into drink. Farms are reliable and (usually) easily extendable sources of food, and generally form the backbone of most fortresses' food production.
- Meat can be sourced from livestock, hunted, caught live and then killed for military training, or stripped from siege mounts. Meat is more difficult to procure, but comes with important secondary resources (leather, fat, bones) and provides more variety than plants at a significantly easier rate. Vermin don't produce meat.
- Fish can be caught, either via fishing or fishing chambers. This is the most dependent of the industries, requiring a body of water (be it an ocean, a lake, or a river). Larger fish caught via fish traps are slaughtered, and their parts counted as part of the meat industry.
- Eggs can be sourced from a hatchery. Any tame egg-laying female animal will do so occasionally when allowed access to an unclaimed nest box, including very exotic animals like alligators and rocs. These eggs can then be cooked.
- Milk can be milked from certain tame female animals, including the more exotic ones like kangaroos and tapirs. Milk can be cooked or processed into higher-value cheese.
- Honey and royal jelly can be produced via beekeeping, and can be cooked or processed into mead.
Note that most food is subject to rotting if not stored properly.