This guide gives you all the information you need for buying and looking after animals, including how to gain the most benefit from them.
How Animal Husbandry Works
Keeping Animals Alive
Animals need food and water, but that is all. No workers are needed to feed animals, and pigs and horses need no workers to breed. Chickens appear never to die of old age, but cows die at about 17 years old. I have not discovered when pigs and horses die.
If a building containing animals runs out of food or water, animals die, starting with the youngest. It generally takes a few days for the first animal to die (although hatchlings may die almost immediately), and then they continue dying at intervals of an animal every few days.
If you realise you don’t have enough food to sustain your animal population, it is better to deliberately slaughter animals and get the meat from them (and hides from cattle) rather than waiting for them to starve to death and get nothing. You can manually select pigs and cattle to slaughter, which is the only way of killing animals under one year old, and/or you can reduce the building limit and a slaughterhouse worker will automatically take the oldest animals. You can kill chickens by reducing the chickens limit. You can also reduce the hatchlings limit to prevent new birds from being hatched, but existing hatchlings won’t be killed until they become chickens.
Most animals eat a variety of foods, and it does not matter which is fed to them or whether they are given a choice or a varied diet. The quantity they eat is the same whichever food is chosen and, if animals have a choice of food, they will eat them in equal quantities.
- Chickens: wheat, buckwheat, sunflower.
- Pigs: wheat, buckwheat, potato, sunflower.
- Cattle: hay (no is food needed when grazing on fallow fields).
- Horses: wheat, hay.
Resource supply by hands is always needed, because water cannot be carried on a cart or a wagon. Resource supply by cart may improve or reduce efficiency, depending on which food is chosen and the distances involved. Here are the quantities that can be carried by hand, by cart and by wagon for each animal feed:
Maximum stock limits for all foods and water in all buildings are 1000, except for hay which is 500.
Chickens eat wheat, buckwheat and/or sunflowers and produce chicken eggs and chicken meat, which can be sold at market stalls for villagers to eat. Chicken eggs can also be sold to other towns via the trading post.
Each chicken eats 18 food a year and drinks 36 water. Each hatchling eats 9 food a year and drinks 18 water.
Each chicken lays a clutch of between 7 and 12 eggs approximately every 3 months, but only if a worker is employed in the chicken coop (it does not matter whether or not the worker is working, resting or fetching resources). If the number of hatchlings is below the limit, then one egg is taken to form a hatchling.
Hatchlings remain hatchlings until they are six months old, when they become chickens. If this pushes the number of chickens over the limit, then the worker will kill a chicken when they are next at work, yielding 10 chicken meat. If you don’t have a worker, extra chickens are not killed. Hatchlings are never killed.
Chickens never die of old age (at least, none of my 60 chickens in a workerless coop had died more than ten years after the youngest was hatched).
Both men and women can work in the chicken coop. Employing more than one worker makes no difference to the amount of eggs and meat produced.
You will need a chicken coop. Set limits for chickens and hatchlings according to how much food you want the chickens to eat, and how much meat you want to produce. See Up and Running for more details of the trade-offs, but for now I will assume you set the limits to the maximum 30 chickens and 30 hatchlings.
In the resource supply window, set the stock limits for whichever food(s) you want the chickens to eat, and set the stock limit to zero for any food you don’t want chickens to eat. When the chicken coop is full, the chickens will eat about 800 food and drink about 1600 water a year, and the maximum you can set is 1000 in each box. Make sure you have food and water in the chicken coop before the chickens arrive, and recruit a worker as soon as they arrive so you can start collecting eggs and growing hatchlings.
How Many Chickens to Buy?
If you buy the maximum 20 chickens at 12 gold each (240 total), you will get about 60 eggs a month for the first six months, when the number of chickens will slowly start to increase, and so will the number of eggs. In about seven and a half months you will have 30 chickens, and you will then start getting chicken meat.
Buying fewer chickens reduces the number of eggs you get to start with and increases the time to get to 30 chickens. Buying 10 chickens for 120 gold produces 30 eggs a month for the first six months and will take about ten months to get to 30 chickens and start getting chicken meat. This may be a good compromise if you are short of money.
With 5 chickens, you will get 15 eggs a month and it will take about a year and a quarter to get to 30 chickens. With fewer than five chickens the time taken to fill the coop increases dramatically.
Up and Running
With the limits set to 30 chickens and 30 hatchlings, a chicken coop employs 1 worker, consumes 810 food a year (wheat, buckwheat or sunflower) and 1620 water, and produces about 1060 eggs and about 580 meat a year. Apart from ensuring the coop does not run out of food or water and the worker hasn’t died or left for more lucrative employment elsewhere, no intervention is needed.
If you cannot spare this quantity of food, or you don’t need this number of eggs, then you can reduce the number of chickens, saving 18 food a year per chicken, but also reducing the number of eggs a year by about 35 per chicken.
If you want less chicken meat, you can reduce the number of hatchlings, saving 9 food per year per hatchling, and reducing the amount of chicken meat per year by about 20 per hatchling. If you already have the number of chickens you want and you don’t want to produce chicken meat, it is possible to have a coop with no hatchlings at all, which just produces eggs.
Expanding to a New Coop
Whichever way you do this, you will suffer an interruption to your chicken meat production. If you want to get the new coop up to full strength as quickly as possible, transfer 15 chickens and 15 hatchlings (or 10 of each from two existing coops). If you are more concerned to maintain meat production, then you may choose to transfer fewer birds than this. Egg production will barely be affected.
The only purpose that pigs have in the game is to convert wheat, buckwheat, potatoes and/or sunflowers into pork and salo in the ratio of 18 food for 10 of each meat. Both meats can be sold to villagers, and salo can also be sold to other towns via the trading post. The only things you need to do to make this happen is to keep your pigs supplied with food and water, and to make sure that pigs get killed as soon as they get to one year old, otherwise they will eat more food for no increase in meat. The slaughterhouse worker will generally manage this automatically without needing to be told what to do.
Each pig eats 180 food a year and drinks 180 water, irrespective of age.
Pigs start to reproduce at the age of six months. They do this whether or not a worker is present, but they don’t reproduce if the number of pigs is greater than the livestock limit. Quite how boars manage to suppress their carnal instincts when there isn’t a worker employed to keep them separate from the sows, I have no idea, but they do.
Sows over six months old produce one litter a year on average, of between 5 and 10 piglets.
Adult pigs, over a year old, each produce 100 pork and 100 salo when they are killed. Pigs less than a year old produce less than this, proportional to their age; a pig that is exactly six months old will produce 50 pork and salo, for example. Because of this, it does not matter at what age you kill pigs so long as you don’t keep them beyond a year old. Younger pigs will have eaten less and they produce proportionally less meat.
You can manually select pigs for slaughter at any age, but if the number of pigs exceeds the livestock limit in a pigsty then the eldest pig (the top one in the list) will automatically be taken for slaughter if it is at least one year old and there is a worker actually working in a slaughterhouse. If the eldest pig is less than a year old, then the slaughterhouse worker will wait until it reaches one year old, and in the meantime you will have more pigs than the livestock limit so no new litters will be produced.
If you let slaughtering take place automatically, some pigs will end up getting slaughtered a short time after their first birthday, but this is generally just a matter of a week or two, and is not worth manual intervention.
The slaughterhouse worker collects a cart, collects the pig, takes it to the slaughterhouse, kills the pig and then returns the cart (and he returns the cart even if there is another pig needing to be killed), so you might encounter problems if the slaughterhouse is too far from the pigsty or the cart shed, but in my testing I did not notice any difference from having the three buildings right next to each other or having them about three houses apart. Nor did employing a second worker in the slaughterhouse make any difference.
The biggest problem with pigs is keeping them fed, and if you cannot spare about 4000 food a year then you will probably find it difficult, requiring manual intervention to keep their numbers down and perhaps setting a lower livestock limit. See Up and Running for how you might do this, but for now I will assume you do have the food available, and set the livestock limit to 20. You will also probably need a dedicated well or platform for water.
In the resource supply window, set the stock limits for whichever food(s) you want the pigs to eat (recommended 1000), and set the stock limit to zero for any food you don’t want pigs to eat. Set laborer by hands (and probably by cart, unless you only intend feeding pigs buckwheat) and make sure you have food and water in the pigsty before the pigs arrive. There is no need to employ a worker provided you have enough labourers you can rely on. You will need a slaughterhouse with worker, but not for the first nine months after buying pigs.
How Many Pigs to Buy?
The trader will sell you up to 20 sows and up to 10 boars for 35 gold each. The pigs you buy will be between one and three months old, so it will be at least three months before your first litter, and it will be at least nine months before your first pig is fully-grown. If you buy one boar and four sows for 105 gold you can be fairly certain of producing two litters before your eldest pig is a year old, which will come very close to ensuring the pigsty is full when the first pig is ready to be slaughtered automatically. Once automatic killing starts, the slaughterhouse worker can be left to manage pig killing without the need for manual intervention. It is possible that four sows aren’t quite enough and five or six might be better, but there seems little point in buying more than this. There should be no need to protect the boar as you are practically certain to get a boar in each new litter.
Up and Running
With the livestock limit set to 20 and just letting the slaughterhouse worker select animals to kill, a pigsty consumes about 4000 food a year (wheat, buckwheat, potato or sunflower) and 4000 water, and produces about 2200 pork and 2200 salo. Although the entire management of a pigsty ought to be automatic, without even needing a pigsty worker, the huge amounts of food that pigs consume may mean that you need to pay a little attention to food supply.
If you cannot spare 4000 food, you could reduce the livestock limit, but you need to be careful about this because of the sizes of litters. If you have a limit of 10, for example, and produce a litter of 10 piglets, you will be back up to 20 pigs, eating 300 food a month, till the oldest pig has reached a year old. On the other hand, if the litter is 7 piglets, you are likely to be left with three pigs over a year old which may take six months to produce another litter, all the time eating food without producing any more meat, unless you manually select them for slaughter.
If, however, if you are happy to intervene, you won’t lose anything by killing pigs of any age, provided you never kill the last boar, and you keep a reasonable number of sows. The main criterion to bear in mind is to try, where possible, to prevent pigs getting much older than twelve months.
Expanding to a New Pigsty
Because pigs reproduce relatively quickly, expanding to a new pigsty is straightforward – just move a young boar and four or five young sows over to the new sty, the same as if you were buying pigs from a trader.
Cattle have many uses in Ostriv. They produce milk and beef which can be sold to villagers to eat, and hides which can be made into leather and turned into shoes or horse tack. Cattle will graze fallow fields, restoring nutrients for growing crops, and pairs of oxen can draw a plough, quickly restoring field nutrients before planting a crop.
If Use fallow field if available is checked (recommended), then cattle are moved by a cowshed worker to the nearest fallow field (based on the distance from the cowshed to the centre of the field, not to the field’s entrance) at the beginning of March. They are moved back to the cowshed at the beginning of November. If there is no cowshed worker, then cows remain in the cowshed (or in the field, where they all spontaneously die on 1st December, before the snow comes).
Each animal eats 25 hay and drinks 25 water every month they are in a cowshed, irrespective of age. When they are grazing in a field they need neither food nor water. Each ox harnessed to a plough in a farm drinks all year round but only eats hay in the winter, and each ploughing team consumes 150 hay and 600 water during the course of a year. As with other animals, no worker is needed in the cowshed or farm to keep the animals alive (but workers are needed to milk cows, to take them out to pastures and bring them back in, and to drive ploughs).
Cattle start reproducing at one year old, but cows only give birth when they are grazing in a field. A bull is needed, but there does not appear to be any advantage to having more than one bull. Ten adult cows may be expected to have between 8 and 10 calves a year. Calves are not born if the number of cattle exceeds the livestock limit.
Each cow over one year old is capable of producing about 80 milk a year, but how much is actually collected depends very much on how often they are milked. In a series of tests over the course of a year, with 20 cows grazing on the same field, a single worker collected 635 milk, two workers collected 1230, three workers collected 1435 and four workers collected 1600. Cows produce significantly more milk when they are grazing in a field (cows confined to a cowshed only produce 50 milk a year – and even this needs multiple workers to collect it all), but the amount collected depends very much on how far away the field entrance is from the cowshed.
Cattle grazing in a fallow field restore 15 of each soil nutrient per month, but since field nutrients replenish automatically between March and August, this only makes a difference between early August and November. It does not matter how many cattle are in a field; one newborn calf will restore 15 of each nutrient a month in the largest field, and 20 mature cows will happily graze all summer in the smallest field the game allows.
If you want oxen for a plough, you will need to castrate two bulls by banging two bricks together clicking the Ox button in the cowshed window. Oxen need to be at least a year old before they can be used for a plough. The carpenter takes the oxen from the cowshed – you don't need to relocate it to the farm or carpenter. If an ox harnessed to a plough in a farm dies, it can be replaced by castrating a bull in a cowshed and relocating it to the farm.
Adult cattle, over a year old, each produce 100 beef and 100 hides when they are killed. Cattle less than a year old produce less than this, proportional to their age; an animal that is exactly six months old will produce 50 beef and 50 hides, for example. Since cattle cost nothing to keep in the summer, it makes most sense to wait till an unwanted animal is at least year old before slaughtering them.
Protecting Animals and Slaughtering
If the number of cattle exceeds the livestock limit in a cowshed then the eldest animal (the top one in the list) will automatically be taken for slaughter if it is at least one year old and there is a worker actually working in the slaughterhouse, except that the last bull will not be killed automatically. However, the eldest animal is likely to be a productive cow, whereas you may also have unproductive year-old bulls which are far better suited to being slaughtered. The best way I have found to manage automatic slaughtering is to protect a core herd of cows, and one bull, and let the slaughterhouse worker take the year-old animals. Protecting 11 cows and a bull appears to be the optimum number if you want to maximise both meat / hide and milk production, but you might choose to protect more cows if milk production is important, particularly if you are going to employ three or four workers.
Oxen appear to be automatically protected (even without the box being checked), so if you accidentally create an ox, you may need to manually select it for slaughter.
Cattle die at about 17 years old, so every few years you need to unprotect the oldest animals and protect a similar number of younger ones.
Cows only eat hay, and grass can only be cut in the summer, so you need to do some advanced planning setting up hay dryers and hay barracks as well as a cowshed. You will need at least two hay dryers (possibly more if the summer is already half over) and two hay barracks; the hay barracks should be immediately outside the cowshed. You will need to ensure there is a reliable water supply, which may require a new well or platform. The cowshed should be built as close to the fields as you can manage.
In the resource supply window, set the stock limits for both hay and water to the maximum (500 and 1000 respectively) and turn on laborer by hands. Employ at least one worker as soon as the cattle arrive, to collect milk and take the cows out to pasture.
How Many Cattle to Buy?
The trader will sell you up to 20 cows, 10 bulls and 10 oxen (castrated bulls used for drawing ploughs) for 40 gold each. Bulls are two years old and cows and oxen will be one year old, which means the cows and bulls are old enough to breed straight away, and the oxen are old enough to draw a plough.
There is no “correct” number of cattle to buy, but both milk and beef / hides require cows rather than bulls, and there is no advantage in buying more than one bull. If your main reason for buying cattle is to graze fallow fields, then one bull and one cow is all you need, and you can expect a calf most years. However, if you want milk, beef and/or hides then a good number to buy is one bull and about ten cows for 440 gold. There is little point in buying more than ten or eleven cows unless you want to populate more than one cowshed, but you can buy fewer cows if you cannot afford ten. If you want a plough immediately, then you should also buy two oxen.
When your cattle arrive, protect them all, and there is very little else you need to do. In a year’s time, and periodically thereafter, you could manually slaughter year old bulls and protect any cows till you have eleven cows protected. There seems little benefit in protecting more than eleven cows unless you particularly want to maximize milk production.
Up and Running
With the livestock limit set to 20 and with 11 protected cows and 1 protected bull, a cowshed will consume about 1950 hay and water a year, and produce about 800 beef and hides. With one worker, you can expect to get about 470 milk a year, but this rises to about 700 with two workers. Three workers can collect about 800 milk and four workers collected an average of 837 from my test set-up.
You cannot get more beef and hides than this, but you could get more milk by protecting more cows (With more than 12 protected cows, you will get less meat and hides).
Expanding to a New Cowshed
Even one newborn calf will restore nutrients in a fallow field, and it probably makes most sense just to transfer some calves over to the new cowshed. Some more can be transferred the following year. Protect one bull and all the cows, and protect more cows each year till you have eleven protected.
Horses have only one use in Ostriv, and that is to pull wagons. Although you can breed horses, there seems to be little point doing so – horses need to be two years old before they can pull a wagon and by the time you have been feeding a foal and its parents for two years, you may as well have just bought another draft horse.
Each horse eats 25 hay or wheat and drinks 25 water every month, irrespective of age and whether or not it is harnessed to a wagon. As with other animals, no worker is needed in the stable or wagon shed to keep the animals alive, although of course there is no point having a wagon in a wagon shed without having a worker to drive it.
Horses probably start reproducing at two years old, but I have not really tested this, nor how quickly they reproduce, but each mare appears to produce about a foal a year. The stable appears to have a livestock limit of 14, so once there are fifteen horses, no new foals will be born, though why anyone would want fifteen horses, I have no idea. Horses cannot be slaughtered, although I suppose they eventually die of old age.
Horseshoes and Horse Tack
Four horseshoes and one horse tack are needed to turn a horse in the stable into a draft horse. The horse needs to be at least two years old and can be male or female. However, you can buy draft horses from the trader for the same price as a normal horse.
Horseshoes and horse tack are not needed at all in the stable unless you want to create a draft horse. They are needed in the wagon shed, where each horse will need four new shoes about once a year and one new tack about once every year and a half. Re-shoeing and re-equipping horse tack is done automatically if you have the materials in the wagon shed.
As with all animals, you must have a building with food and water before they arrive, and in the case of horses this means having a stable, even if you are only buying draft horses for wagons. As soon as you build the stable, set resource supply stock limits for horse tack and horseshoes to zero – you won’t need them in the stable and you will only be able to get them out again by emptying the building. Set whichever food you want, but you won’t need much unless you intend keeping horses to breed.
You cannot order a wagon without a wagon shed, so build one of these. This also needs stock limits for food and water set, and laborer by hands to keep it resupplied, and eventually you will need horse tack and horseshoes, but not for a year or so. There is no need to employ a worker till you have a wagon built for them to drive, but when you do, it is probably best to employ a second worker for when the first is resting. With three wagons, it might be best to employ five workers.
Because you are unlikely to have many horses, there is probably no need to take any particular care to ensure a reliable food supply, but placing one hay barrack outside the wagon shed, with a hay dryer nearby is probably a good idea. This will easily keep three horses fed.
How Many Horses to Buy?
The trader will sell you up to 10 stallions, 10 mares and 10 draft horses (needed for pulling wagons) for 60 gold each. Each animal will be about two years old. There seems very little point in buying anything other than the number of draft horses you need for wagons. Each wagon requires one horse, and you can have up to three wagons in a wagon shed.
Up and Running
The 300 food and 300 water needed per horse ought not to be a problem if you aren’t breeding horses. Every year or two, a draft horse will need new horseshoes and tack.
Horses may eventually die of old age, but since real draft horses carry on working into their thirties, this is not something I have tried to find out.