Tired of having an empty pen after two weeks of milk and wool? Wondering how in Vinland you can keep your sheep alive? Well, maybe I can help! It’ll mean a later start to sheep farming than anything else, but you’ll always have a few sheep on hand to milk, shear, or slaughter if need be.
An Overview of the Pens
If you’re just starting out in Dead in Vinland (like I did, once upon a time) you probably ran into the ‘Wild Sheep’ exploration event fairly early. There’s usually at least one or two close to the main camp, so it makes sense that you’ve found them. And, if you’re like me, you immediately moved to capitalize on your newfound sheep.
Yeah, I know. You want to have your sheep now, don’t you? But if you do, there’s a good chance your little sheep will grow old and die pretty fast. See, sheep in this game start as lambs, mature into adults, then age into old sheep pretty quickly; like, a few days in each stage. And once they get to be old, they start losing health every day, even if you’re taking good care of them. And taking care of your sheep is pretty labor intensive in and of itself, until you get access to most of the Pens upgrades.
Each sheep has three gauges in addition to their age; Health, Milk, and Wool. Milk and Wool will always increase, while Health will fluctuate day by day depending on your sheep care. When Wool and Milk near 100, the sheep can be worked to receive those resources. If health drops too low, the sheep can’t breed, and you risk it dying without getting any meat off it. Health increases each night if the sheep is fed, decreases otherwise, and can be boosted by working them with a survivor.
To properly care for any sheep you add to your camp, you need a few things. First, you need one Pen for each sheep you have. Second is a character with at least 40+ levels in Animal Handling; this will allow you to commit only one action per day to caring for your sheep. Third, you’ll need a sustainable source of wheat to make Sheep Feed, as well as a dedicated Scavenger to get enough non-potable water.
If an adult or old sheep has over 50 health, it is capable of breeding. Each night the game checks for these conditions, then makes a check based on the number of healthy sheep to see if they breed, resulting in a new baby sheep appearing in an empty pen. If you have two healthy sheep and an empty pen, there’s a 40% chance of getting a lamb (without upgrades). This chance drops if one or more of the sheep are old. And you start with three pens.
You can probably see the problem now.
Looking over all of this, you’re probably wondering if this is all worth it. Yes, it is. Milk can be freely converted into Imperishable Cheese, and Wool is the only reliable, renewable source of Cloth, which you need to take care of the Herbalist, Medical Tent, and Rest Area stations as well as multiple crafting projects. If you want to go the distance (+100 days to win) you’ll need Sheep.
It’s just not going to be easy.
Setting up for Success
So, if getting your Sheep isn’t a quick thing, what’s needed?
Well, raw resource wise, you’ll need a lot of things to setup a sustainable sheep herd. In fact, the Pens should be the last thing you should construct. You’ll need all of the following buildings to make a proper go at being a herdsmaster.
- Lumber Camp – needed to acquire wood
- Mining Camp – needed to acquire iron
- Herbalist – needed to acquire seeds and hemp
- Forge – needed to make rope
- Gardens – needed to produce wheat
- You’ll also want both of the ‘Study’ activities to be completed before you build the Pens
Once you have all these (and the people needed to work them) you can finally start planning your herd. I’d recommend having at least six people in your camp and a steady supply of fish or meat as well, since you’re going to be diverting at least one or two of your survivors to set up everything you need for sustainable sheep herding. Then, try to accumulate as much of the following as you can:
- 60 Wood
- 40 Rope
- 2 Ancient Knowledge
- 3 Iron
- 5 Healing Plants
- 20 Hemp
Once you have the above structures and resources (which shouldn’t be too hard – you’ll want most of them anyway to keep up with Bjorn’s tribute and feed everyone) you can start work on the Pens. Building the base Pens will require 30 Wood and 20 Rope- which is why you’ll want to have the Lumber Camp and Forge running first. This is very resource intensive, and shouldn’t be possible or viable until week seven or eight at the earliest.
Once you’ve built the first pens, you’ll immediately want to sink another 10 Wood and 10 Rope into the Pens 2 upgrade. This is so that you can keep two adult sheep and have two empty spots open to allow them to expand the herd at all times; if you can spare the resources and a constructor, you can even pay another 10 of each to get Pens 3, which adds yet another stall for your sheep.
As you’re building your pens, start farming Wheat at your Garden, and try to build up a stockpile of at least 40-50 wheat. This will give you enough Sheep Feed so that you can go multiple days or even a whole week without having to plant more, or let your sheep starve. Once you have enough Pens, you can go ahead and herd two of the wild sheep into your camp, and then set them up in the pens. Make some sheep feed, figure out who’s going to take care of the little lambs, and then get to work.
As soon as your craftspeople have a free moment, get the Cheese Knowledge and Breeding Techniques upgrades, or pick up the first rank of Animal Remedies and the Good Tools upgrade. The Breeding Techniques upgrade is key; so long as your breeding chance is above zero, it adds a flat +15% chance for a new lamb to be born, which gives you a 55% each night you have two adult sheep. The rest of the upgrades merely make it easier to care for your sheep, and maintain their health even as things go wrong.
Keeping the Herd Happy and Healthy
If you’ve followed this guide well thus far, you’ll find that you should consistently able to produce lambs and keep your her healthy. However, there are still a few ways you can mess up, so follow the following rules closely.
1) Old Sheep should not stay in the Pens for more than a few days
If you’ve been following my instructions, you should have 4+ pens available for sheep to live in. But, if every pen becomes occupied by an Old Sheep, you’ve made a mistake. Old sheep have lower breeding chances, produce less meat, and yield less milk and wool than their younger counterparts (or so I assume on those last parts). As long as an old sheep is clogging up a pen, there’s no place for a lamb to be born into. Once you’ve harvested both the old sheep’s wool and milk, go ahead and butcher them to free up space, so long as you have two adult sheep available to breed a new lamb.
2) You should assign a herdsperson once per day; no more, no less
Action efficiency is key in this game. Having one person care for sheep each day will allow you to harvest all the necessary wool and milk before they start impacting the sheep’s health, and sustain the lives of any old sheep until it’s time for butchering. However, having a person waste both their actions on sheep care is a bad idea; you can find other tings to do, such as garden care or hemp collection.
3) Only slaughter sheep when they’re old, or you absolutely have to
Sheep are milk makers. Slaughtering a lamb or adult sheep for food is a terrible idea, since doing so will cause you to miss out on milk/cheese you’d otherwise get. Unless you’re desperately trying to pay off one of Bjorn’s meat tributes or you have three other pens with adult sheep, you shouldn’t ever kill a sheep that has yet to age into a dirty old one. Besides, unless you have 10 survivors and no Cooking Pot, there’s really no need to have 14+ raw meat sitting around anyway.
4) Keep your sheep fed
Keeping sheep healthy becomes much, much harder if you don’t continually have sheep feed available for them to munch on. Wheat is not hard to grow, and non-potable water isn’t hard to collect. You just need to plan your days out in advance.
If you keep to all of these rules and continue to expand your pens, you should be able to keep a constantly renewing flock of sheep without significant difficulty. Now all you need to worry about is the occasional bout of diarrhea from eating cheese all the time. Good luck!