How to Breed Animals in Minecraft

Updated on December 11, 2015
Dreamhowl profile image

Dreamhowl has been playing Minecraft since 2012. She enjoys building, farming, and breeding animals. She especially enjoys magic modpacks!

What is Breeding?

In Minecraft, breeding animals is a feature that allows fed animals of the same species to create baby animals. Minecraft animals have “favorite” types of food that can be used to lead them around and breed them with each other. Animals will follow the player around as long as they are holding their favorite food. The player needs to be holding the food; animals do not respond to food thrown on the ground, or crops that are planted in the ground.

Learn how to breed different animals in Minecraft and the resources they provide!
Learn how to breed different animals in Minecraft and the resources they provide! | Source

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Why breed animals in Minecraft? If you are playing a long-term survival map, having an animal farm is a great source of food and other resources. Farm animals aren’t the only animal in Minecraft you can breed, however - you can breed horses, donkeys, wolves and even ocelots! Here are some reasons you might want to breed animals in your Minecraft world:

  • animal meat awards more hunger points than bread or crops

  • animals provide materials such as wool, leather, eggs and milk

  • breeding horses can result in different coat colors and patterns

  • drinking milk cures status changes, poisons and withering

  • leather can be used to craft simple armor, books and item frames

How do you breed animals in Minecraft, then? Feeding animals their favorite food will trigger love mode, where they will pair off and make a single baby animal. Players must wait five minutes after breeding two animals of the same species to breed them again. Breeding animals provides experience each time to the player nearest to the animals. Baby animals will follow their parents until they become adults - roughly twenty minutes. Isn't that cute?

How to Breed Cows

Cows are a great source of food, leather for armor and milk for recipes.
Cows are a great source of food, leather for armor and milk for recipes. | Source

Cows spawn naturally in the Overworld in herds of four to ten. Cows are valuable because of the resources they provide; they are the only source of leather, milk and raw beef. Cows can be milked infinitely by players by approaching with an empty bucket and right-clicking on the cow. Even calves can be milked infinitely! Leather and raw beef can only be obtained by killing the cow, making breeding profitable. Wheat is needed to breed two adult cows:

  • wheat seeds are collected by breaking tall grass

  • mature wheat is tall and dark brown in color

  • wheat grows faster when the farmland is hydrated

  • bone meal will mature wheat quicker than normal

  • immaturely harvested wheat will only award seeds

Breeding cows with wheat is considered the best use of this crop; cooked beef fills up your hunger bar much better than bread, cookies or cake can. Players also have the chance to receive leather when killing cows, which is necessary for books - books are required to craft bookshelves and bookshelves are required to enchant weapons and other items. Breeding cows is an absolute must for permanent survival worlds in Minecraft!

How to Breed Sheep

A sheep's wool can be dyed different colors before it is sheared and gathered!
A sheep's wool can be dyed different colors before it is sheared and gathered! | Source

Sheep are animals that spawn into the Overworld naturally like cows. While most sheep tend to have white wool, they can also spawn into the world with black, gray, light gray, brown and pink wool. Sheep are valuable for their wool, which is needed to craft beds and decorative items. While string can be used to craft wool, this process is more tedious and requires hunting spiders at night or in cave systems. Like cows, sheep need to be fed wheat to breed.

Players can obtain wool by right-clicking on a sheep with shears, producing one to three blocks of wool. Did you know that sheep need to eat grass to regrow their wool? They can either eat tall grass, or turn grass blocks into dirt blocks. Players can also right-click on an unsheared sheep with dye to change the color of it’s wool. The sheep’s wool will remain that color, making sheep farming and breeding an easy way to produce different colored wools!

How to Breed Pigs

Not only do pigs provide porkchops, but they can also be ridden with a saddle!
Not only do pigs provide porkchops, but they can also be ridden with a saddle! | Source

Pigs are passive mobs that spawn naturally and can be used for both food and transportation. They most often roam around in groups of three or four and can also be found wading in the water. Pigs can be ridden by placing a saddle on them, though their movements cannot be controlled without a carrot on a stick. Before the introduction of horses, pigs were the best way traverse large distances in little time. Adult pigs can be bred by feeding them carrots:

  • carrots are found on village farms or dropped by zombies (rare)

  • mature carrots award one to four carrots when harvested

  • more bone meal is necessary to mature carrots quicker

  • Fortune-enchanted tools increase the amount of carrots harvested

  • golden carrots are needed for potions of night vision

By breeding pigs, players can maintain a near-infinite source of porkchops to cook for food. While not a satisfying as cooked beef, cooked porkchops are a more viable solution than living off of bread or carrots themselves. If you do prefer riding pigs to horses, just be careful in lightning storms - pigs struck by lightning turn into zombie pigmen, and we all know how dangerous they can be!

How to Breed Chickens

Chicken eggs can be thrown at the ground to produce chicks or used in recipes.
Chicken eggs can be thrown at the ground to produce chicks or used in recipes. | Source

Chickens (or ducks) are naturally-spawning mobs that are most valuable for their feathers, eggs and raw chicken. They are most commonly seen wandering around aimlessly, though they do prefer lighted areas over darkness. Chickens can fall safely from high places by flapping their wings to slow down. They lay eggs about once every eight minutes, which can be broken to hatch chicks or used in recipes. Chickens are bred with wheat seeds, melon seeds, nether wart or pumpkin seeds:

  • wheat seeds are found by breaking tall grass

  • placing a melon in a crafting table produces melon seeds

  • Nether wart grows in the Nether around Nether fortresses

  • placing a pumpkin in a crafting table gives pumpkin seeds

  • it does not matter which type of seeds you use to breed

Farming chickens provides a renewable source of eggs - however, they disappear after five minutes and need to be gathered often. Hoppers can be strategically placed with chests underneath to collect eggs on an automatic farm. Breeding chickens also supplies players with feathers, which are needed to craft arrows. And when you are hungry, you can always have some cooked chicken for dinner!

How to Breed Horses

Horses can be bred to produce different color patterns and skill levels.
Horses can be bred to produce different color patterns and skill levels. | Source

Horses are a passive mob that can only spawn in the plains, savanna and savanna plateau biomes in herds of two to six. Horses within the same herd have similar skin patterns, though there can be slight variations. Horses and donkeys can naturally spawn into the Overworld, while mules are made by breeding a horse and a donkey together. Only adult horses can be tamed and ridden. Horses are bred by feeding them golden apples or golden carrots:

  • surrounding an apple with gold ingots crafts a golden apple

  • surrounding a carrot with gold nuggets crafts a golden carrot

  • gold ingots can be obtained from zombie pigmen in the Nether

  • gold ore can be mined and smelted into gold ingots

  • apples are collected by breaking tree leaves

Horses can be tamed by players and be used to travel long distances in a short amount of time. Right-clicking on a horse with an empty hand will mount it - doing this until the horse stops throwing off the player makes it tame. A saddle is needed to properly ride the horse and control its direction. Saddles are found in chests inside dungeons, Nether fortresses, temples, in village blacksmith chests or by trading with villagers. Tamed mules can even be equipped with a chest to store items on the go!

How to Breed Wolves

Wolves are great companions and will defend their owner to their death.
Wolves are great companions and will defend their owner to their death. | Source

Wolves are mobs that only spawn in forest and tiaga biomes in packs of one to eight wolves. While wild, they are not hostile to players unless hit by them - hitting a wild wolf will turn the whole pack on the player. Wolves can be tamed by players by right-clicking on it with a bone. Tamed wolves sport red collars, which can be dyed to other colors if desired. Only tamed wolves can be bred together to make puppies. Wolves enter love mode when given any type of meat, such as chicken, beef, porkchops or rotten flesh:

  • meat does not have to be cooked when given to wolves

  • wolf pups are born with low health and should be fed

  • rotten flesh has no negative effects on wolves and pups

  • puppies will drown if they follow you into water

  • a wolf’s health is shown by the height of their tail

Tamed wolves can be commanded to sit down by right-clicking on them. These wolves will not follow players around and will not run away, keeping them safely within a pen or out of the player’s way. Wolves need to be fed meat to stay healthy, especially if fighting off hostile mobs. Breeding wolves provides the player with a renewable team of fighters to defend him or help him kill mobs. Wolves will attack anything that their owner attacks or is hit by, including other players!

How to Breed Ocelots

Cats naturally repel creepers with their soft meows and knowing eyes.
Cats naturally repel creepers with their soft meows and knowing eyes. | Source

Ocelots are passive mobs that only spawn in jungle biomes and change into cats when tamed by players; their fur will change from yellow with black and brown spots to either tabby, tuxedo or siamese. Ocelots are very shy and will sprint away from the player if run toward or looked at quickly. Ocelots are tamed by the player attracting it with a raw fish - the ocelot must approach the player, who can feed it the fish by right-clicking on the ocelot. Tamed cats enter love mode when they are fed raw fish:

  • raw fish is obtained by using a fishing pole in water

  • kittens take on the color of the first cat to reach the other

  • cats can breed if one if sitting and the other is standing

  • kittens are born tame to the owner of the breeding cats

  • kittens will drown if they follow you into water

What is your favorite animal?

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Cats can be commanded to sit like wolves, and will otherwise roam the area and kill chickens if possible. Tamed cats will teleport to the player if they go too far and are completely immune to fall damage. While they do not fight hostile mobs, tamed cats (and wild ocelots) repel creepers even if the creeper is provoked. Breeding tamed cats can allow players to protect specific doorways and buildings from creepers!

By breeding all types of animals in Minecraft, players can be self-sustaining and be prepared for anything. Whether it’s food, materials or companionship you seek, breeding animals can provide them for you. If you have any other ideas about breeding animals and their uses, feel free to leave some feedback in the comment section below!

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Jessica Marello

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      • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

        Jessica Marello 

        23 months ago from United States

        @Pleasehelp and @kittensrock17: Are they tame? Are they close together when you feed them? If the answer is yes, it could be a bug that I haven't heard about. If you forced the horses to mature early by feeding them, try waiting 20 minutes before breeding. That's the time it normally takes for a foal to mature. If it's a bug, the game might not realize the horse is an adult until then. And remember that animals can only breed once every five minutes, Let me know if this helps the situation at all. I'll look into it in the meanwhile - which systems are you using?

      • profile image

        Please help 

        23 months ago

        My horses are not breeding when I feed them golden apples and golden carrots WHAT DO I DO!!!

      • profile image

        kittensrock17 

        23 months ago

        My horses won't breed in mindcraft no matter how many golden apples and golden carrots I feed them, what should I do???( please answer quikley because I Breed animals in minecraft for a living)

      • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

        Jessica Marello 

        2 years ago from United States

        @Dogica Thank you!

      • profile image

        Dogica 

        2 years ago

        very nice!

      • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

        Jessica Marello 

        3 years ago from United States

        @PiebaldOcelot: If only! I love breeding horses, and it would be a lot less costly that way. Thanks for reading!

      • profile image

        PiebaldOcelot 

        3 years ago

        Excellent walkthrough for noobs at Minecraft farming! If only horses could be bred with normal carrots - a girl can dream, right?

      • Dreamhowl profile imageAUTHOR

        Jessica Marello 

        4 years ago from United States

        I remember when they changed what to breed pigs and chickens with I was so bothered. I couldn't find carrots for the longest time in one world, and couldn't find any villages to steal them from! Thanks again for your feedback. :)

      • ilikegames profile image

        Sarah Forester 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Another great Minecraft Hub. I must say that when I first started breeding in Minecraft that it absolutely did my head in! Like most things in Minecraft your first time is hard, wish I had this guide at the start.

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