I’ve had a feeling cow paddocks were a bit overperforming in terms of food production to the point of considering different house rules to tackle the issue. But I figured why not discuss the cow paddock here and so I set up an experiment to compare the food and trade value output of different livestock in a max size paddock.
I loaded up an old (non-ironman) save with a built-up town and replaced a bunch of farms with 3 max-size paddocks very close to houses (see image at the bottom). One I filled with cows, one with reindeer and one with sheep. I checked to see that the stockbreeders actually lived reasonably close to the paddocks. I also made another paddock on the other side of the map where there was free space for chicken, but it was pretty evident that a lot of eggs were going to waste in the max size paddock so it didn’t make much sense to include the chicken paddock in the test.
I ran the game for 8 years and noted down the output of all food and resources produced by the paddocks. I organized the data into a spreadsheet and calculated the average outputs. Here are the average outputs per year over the 8 year period:
Cows (25×25 paddock):
1080 beef, 936 milk, 6.75 cow hide, 27 animal fat
Food per year: 2016
Trade value per year: 4248
Reindeer (25×25 paddock):
1080 venison, 13.5 reindeer hide, 27 animal fat
Food per year: 1080
Trade value per year: 2430
Sheep (25×25 paddock):
670 mutton, 149.25 wool, 16.75 sheepskin, 33.5 animal fat
Food per year: 670
Trade value per year: 2869
I would say the reindeer and sheep paddocks have a nice balance with each other. Reindeer are better for food production, sheep are better for clothes and export value. Both are very strong overall especially in output per villager compared to other primary production facilities. Per unit of area the output is not as incredible, but still not bad.
But it looks like cow paddocks are almost strict upgrades to the reindeer paddocks. Roughly the same meat output, roughly the same fat output, roughly the same hide output for leather production (cow hides make 2x as much leather as reindeer hides). But cows also produce a lot of milk in addition to all of that which leads to the big surplus in both food and trade value yields over the other paddocks.
It is also relevant to consider how all of this compares to some other methods of food production. From some testing it looks like in mild climate one farmer can in very good conditions average around 1000 food produced per year. That is around half what a cow stockbreeder produces. With realistic walking distances this is likely lower. With fair/harsh climate, no education, no tools or lower happiness this is much lower, somewhere closer to a quarter what a cow stockbreeder produces.
The counterpoint would be that one could fit at least 4 farms into the space of one 25×25 paddock. So in terms of space efficiency the farms still reign supreme in terms of pure food output. Additional considerations are that cow paddocks produce other things as well in addition to food which is not to be underestimated. But the farmers too can contribute to the rest of the economy as laborers in the winter.
Thoughts on this? Overall it seems like cow paddocks are somewhat overpowered both compared to other livestock paddocks as well as compared to other forms of food production per villager. In terms of food produced per area farming is much more competitive and even superior, although mostly so in milder climates.
It’s an interesting result, thank you for posting. I also did such tests back then and cows are intended to be the strongest livestock in max size pastures but I dont remember them to outperform so much. Reindeer was only added because people liked the “deer as livestock” option from other mods and it should be more a niche thing if not even moved to a special scenario but that’s another problem.
My first thought from your test is to increase required size, maybe from 30 to 36 for a cow and slightly reducing food output in addition. Or even more size but that will make it quite difficult to place pastures for at least 10 cows, which is the minimum to split a herd, if I remember right.
Cows should still be noticeably better on large areas than the others because it is more expensive or time consuming to establish such a big herd and also less fexible in terms of land use. Another small drawback of cows is that you actually need sheep to be self-sufficient on warm clothing.
My first thought from your test is to increase required size, maybe from 30 to 36 for a cow and slightly reducing food output in addition.
Something like that sounds neat.
Having reindeer as an option is nice. They don’t produce anything like milk, wool or eggs which needs to be constantly fetched from the paddock so in theory they could have a niche in situations where the stockbreeder is only intermittently able to work at the paddock. For example in more remote areas of the map where there is more walking distance involved or with low villager happiness levels.
But for that niche to exist they would need to average more meat produced per paddock than cows.