|This article is about the current version of DF.|
|This feature has one or more outstanding bugs. Please view the Bugs section for details.|
Female versions of certain animals are milkable. In order to perform milking, you must have a dwarf with the milking labor active, a farmer's workshop, an empty bucket and a mature, non-pet, milkable animal.
 Milkable creatures
The following creatures can be milked:
- Kangaroo† and giant kangaroo†
- One-humped camel† and giant one-humped camel†
- Purring maggot‡
- Tapir† and giant tapir†
- Two-humped camel† and giant two-humped camel†
- Water buffalo
- † These animals are not domesticated and can't be brought on embark. Savage giant versions grant the same milk as the normal-sized species.
- ‡ Purring maggots are an unusual case in that they are vermin and not livestock. They are currently bugged and can't be milked if tamed. Bug:3670.
 Milking creatures
Queue a "Milk Creature" job at a farmer's workshop. The milker will not necessarily pick the closest animal available. Caging, pasturing or restraining the milkable creatures near the workshop might be a good idea, but is not mandatory. The animal must also have milk available. Once milked, the creature will be free to roam. If the creature was previously caged, pastured or restrained, some dwarf will be assigned the job of taking it back. You can avoid these pasture animal jobs if the farmer's workshop is in the animal's pasture.
Milk should eventually be transferred from its bucket into a barrel or large pot for long-term storage. If you plan to make cheese, it's a good idea to let the milk accumulate so that you get stacks of cheese (up to size 5) instead of single (size 1) cheeses.
The frequency with which animals are able to be milked is defined in the raw files with the tag
[MILKABLE:LOCAL_CREATURE_MAT:MILK:20000]. All milkable creatures currently have this tag set to 20000 ticks, which, at roughly 1200 ticks per day, means they all can be milked every 17 game days. Due to this time-out, using epeating jobs to milk creatures is infeasible if only a few milkable animals are available. Alternating repeating "Milk Creature" and "Make Cheese" jobs tend to work poorly, since transfer of the milk to storage can interfere with continued work, so that sooner or later the cheesemaking job will be cancelled, eventually canceling the milking job as well.
A trick to maximise embark point returns is to take a minimum of 1 of each kind of milk. Milk costs only 1 point at embark and comes with a separate barrel for each type, effectively giving you free barrels.
- After finishing a milking job, the milker may generate a cancellation message if trying to take another job immediately: "Urist McMultitasking cancels job, handling dangerous animal". They will subsequently just leave the milked animal to wander away on its own and retask anyway.
- It is unclear why pets cannot be milked; this seems to be a bug because milking is a requirement for some animals and presumably the Animal Care dwarf would be aware of this and oversee their regular milking. Perhaps there should be an option to assign a cage or restraint to milking so that it will be used automatically for pet animals?
- Tamed purring maggots can't be milked. Bug:3670
- After being milked, purring maggots are left inside the workshop as an item. Bug:3668
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Dwarven milk does not in fact come from dwarves. This is generally a relief to human caravans, until they find out where it really comes from.
Because milk is not considered a drink, dwarves will not drink it, even if they are dying of thirst. Indeed, dwarves consider any drink that isn't alcoholic to be no better than water, and refuse to drink milk because it's of better use as cheese. Another theory is that dwarves refuse to imbibe milk because it would make them puny milk-drinkers. What is for certain, however, is that unlike in real life, dwarves have yet to discover how to make alcoholic fermented milk beverages, such as kumis or kefir.