And now another Minecraft series!

This series will discuss keeping herds (or flocks in the case of chickens) of animals, and how to do so effectively- and how to gain resources out of it.

There are many animals in minecraft that are not mobs, and each of them has its uses in the game of minecraft.  Even the lowly pig (least useful of the various sorts you can keep in your farm) has its uses, and so it behooves you (hee) to know how to keep your animals.

Before anything else, you’ll need to make an enclosure.

For any sort of animal you can keep, you will want this enclosure to be large.  Animals tend to wander around, even when you get them to follow you (more on that later), and keeping them from wandering off and jumping off a cliff or simply going beyond your range to retrieve them is important.

This is likely to be the first place putting up fence pieces becomes a non-aesthetic choice.  Fences, being one and a half squares tall, will defeat the attempts of anything to jump over them, no matter what it is.  This allows you to use them to keep your animals in where you can keep track of them.  This is especially true because of the ‘gate’ piece, which fits visually with the fence pieces and is just as tall, but opens and closes like a door.  (Inconveniently, this piece is usually not subject to the locking ability built into certain Minecraft addons.)

You’ll want to make sure this area is well-lit too- there’s nothing like going out to milk your cows and getting ambushed by a zombie hanging out in the midst of the herd.  At least, not for getting your face gnawed on and forcing you to kill part of your herd by trying to smack the offending undead.  This also doesn’t hurt as a way of keeping track of your animals’ location, if you’re somehow being forced to keep them in a place other than right by your home.

There are times when members of your herd will ‘stack’ up, appearing to fly higher into the air because, for instance, fifteen cows have tried to crowd into a 2x2 area.  This is mostly a visual illusion- it may seem that the animal is about to escape the pen- but don’t let this panic you, it’s still stuck in where you left it.

At any rate, you will probably want to have an ‘airlock’ system in place for entering and leaving your herd pens.  This is a setup where you have a secondary pen outside the gate, with a second gate leading outside of the entire system.  This lets you worry less about animals coming out when you open the gate so you can enter or leave the pen.  Generally you’ll want to have a bit of space (1x4 or 2x3 is usually plenty) within that ‘airlock’ so that you don’t wind up shoving whatever animal is making a break for it out into the open.  Again, keeping this area well lit is to your advantage.

Fortunately, keeping herds involves no real consideration for resources (except for sheep, who you want to keep on grassy dirt), so you don’t need to concern yourself with putting water or anything like that into the pen area.  Because of this, some herding can be done in very unusual places- the tops of trees, the depths of caves, and other areas that ordinarily wouldn’t make sense.

Sometimes animals will wander into such enclosed spaces on their own as well- I’ve seen subterranean chickens especially frequently.

At any rate, your ‘pen’ doesn’t have to be made of fence- however, fence -is- a very convenient piece to use, requiring one piece to overcome the one-block jump height shared by everything in the game, where other blocks would need to be stacked two-high and generally aren’t see-through.  Aesthetically speaking, it can be very pleasing to make the pen half of fence and half out of a sort of roofed shelter if you have the resources, but that’s purely a visual choice.