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General tips about ranching critters

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I will highlight important points in bold red text for those that do not want to read too much.

First of all, I should mention that there are 2 main ways of handling the critters: 1st is building a ranch up to 96 tiles in size and placing 8 critters (6 for pufts) inside and letting a rancher dupe groom them, 2nd is dumping critters into some space and trying to maintain their population without grooming them. 2nd approach finds the most success with pacu, but many people are often trying to do it to other critters. Within this topic, I will mainly focus on the 1st approach, but I will mention some cases of using 2nd approach. Also, I will not cover the topic of ranching pacus, because they are way too different from all other critters.

Secondly, you should be aware that all critters have food value and some sort of output resource. Some critters are primarily ranched for food, while other critters are primarily ranched for their output resources... Sometimes, for both... Usually, even though you are ranching critters for 1 of their outputs, it is recommended to try and find a use for the other output. 

Lets start with covering some basics about ranches: through my experience and experiments, you should only make dupes that have interest +7 husbandry into your ranchers and should try to pick up such dupes from printing pod when ever possible. The reason for that is because husbandry is pretty hard to raise and it has a lot of impact in their specific job. The reason is because you can only raise husbandry when your dupes are interacting with incubators, but their job is to groom critters which does not increase husbandry. So, you should consider husbandry 11 as your baseline rancher. Through many experiments and experience, I can say that 1 baseline rancher can handle 4 full ranches. Technically, you could try to squeeze in 5th full ranch, but I recommend that you leave that extra time free for other tasks related to ranching (those other task are hugging incubators and moving critters from them).

To continue, I want to mention that ratio 1 to 4 seem to hold regardless of the critters ranched and the general setup of the ranch. As long your ranches are relatively close together and you place grooming station next to the entrance. The time loss on the critter movement from point X inside a ranch to the grooming station is relatively small, most of the time is used on critters reacting. The time save that you could save by trying to make the most optimal movement path for critters is somewhere around 10%. But if you are new to the critter ranching, I suggest that you do not overthink about how to make the best ranch for the specific critter and just setup what ever you can. The ratio 1 to 4 should hold for you.

1 dupe with 11 husbandry for 4 full ranches with 8 critters each. Do not overthink the details of the ranch.

Every critter lay 16 eggs during their lifetime if they are perfectly happy. Also, I suggest that when ever you setup a ranch for any of their outputs, you should overcompensate by slightly more than 1 critter, which also means that you should count 8 critter ranch as if it has 6-7 critters.. Because there are drops in efficiency when a critter dies from old age and is being replaced by a young one. Also, critters will not have 100% "happy" uptime, since ranchers tend to go to groom them after they become "glum". And all other small details about how the game function, suggest that you should overcompensate in your critter count. For example, you should technically need 6.6 hatches to feed 4 dupes with barbeque, I suggest that you count that 8 hatches feed 4 dupes. The number 6.6 comes from 100/15=6.6, 15 is 16-1, because you need to use 1 egg to maintain the population inside the ranch. In a practical setup, you will slightly more than 1 egg.

When ever setting up a ranch for anything, in your calculation you should overcompensate, counting 8 critter ranch as 6-7 critters.

Next, lets go into details for each critter.



The most basic critter is hatch. The way I see hatches is entry level critter for newer player and early game. They can survive in the temperature range that your base will likely be. The easy way to look at it, if your dupe is okay with the temperature than your hatch is also okay. They can also be placed in any gas environment. So, you can just slap your hatch ranch at any empty space and it will work. Their outputs are both quite useful... But their sustainability and output slowly become more questionable as you move into late game. They are a great tutorial critter.

To setup a hatch ranch, as I have mentioned, do not overthink it. Just make 96 tiles big ranch and place grooming station, critter drop off and critter feeder inside. The setup is pretty much the same for all hatch types, only the type of food changes. Here is a slightly optimized example.


But you do not need to keep some strict dimension, you can just slap it in anywhere that it fits:

You do not even need to limit their movement to 4 tiles, since the advantage of doing so is insignificant. Baseline hatches can pretty much eat anything and they evolve into other hatch types depending on what they ate. 

Now, moving on to the hatch outputs. As for food, all hatch types are the same. When killed for meat, 1 hatch ends up being 3200 kcal which becomes 4000 when cooked into barbeque. Their eggs can also be cooked into omelette for 2800 kcal. You lose about 1200 kcal by cooking eggs over waiting for them to hatch. Though, it is much easier to setup egg cooking over hatch killing and you would need to spend 20 cycles without food output as the start up. Hatches live 100 cycles and like any critter lay 16 eggs during their lifetime. You need to use at least 1 egg to keep the population inside the ranch.


The resulting number basically means how many cycles on average a single hatch will take to lay an egg. Do note, hatches actually lay egg faster than that, Since they gain around 17% each cycle towards laying an egg, so, they will lay an egg every 5.88 cycles. But, we calculate when do we actually get spare eggs to use for food. So... 6.666 means that you would need at least 7 hatches to end up getting a spare egg every cycle on average. Since I recommend overcompensating for more than 1 hatch, you should count that 8 hatches produce 1 spare egg every cycle. On practice, you will get more eggs and will slowly build up a stockpile of food. We can round up 2800 kcal from omelette to being 3 dupes, so:

8 hatches gives enough food for:
omelette -> 3 dupes.
barbeque -> 4 dupes.

Now, about the other outputs, most notable one is coal. Sage hatches produce twice as much coal when fed dirt than other hatches which makes them much better if it is the food that you can afford to feed them. Typical hatch converts 50% of the mass into coal and consumes 140 kg of mass. So, each hatch produces 70 kg of coal. 1 coal generator requires 600 kg of coal for the constant 600W. Since we are overcompensating by 1.


The expected output from 8 hatches/stone hatches is 490W

Sage hatches are twice as good and will require 2 coal generators.


The expected output from 8 sage hatches is 980W

Coal is a great early game source of power, you can pretty much put them anywhere and it will not cause you any problems for many hundreds of cycles. So, hatches are worthwhile to ranch, but you should consider moving off from them at some point... First of all, coal generators are far from the best solution for energy as you move later into the game, its purpose is being a step stone until you are ready to move onto better power generation. But most importantly, is the problem of hatch sustainability:

- Suppose that you want to get 40 dupes and let your base live past cycle 2000. That means, with our ratios, you will require 80 hatches.
- Your typical map will have somewhere around 30 000 000 kg of mass that can be fed to hatches. You should consider that you will use at least 50% of that for building. Also, you should consider that you lose another 50% of mass by digging. So, we will feed hatches 7 500 000 kg.

7 500 000 / (140 * 80) = 669
Your base would only last 669 cycles. Which is still a lot and newer players usually do not survive that long. It should still be considered a resource that will run out. Though, when we talk about more of entry level ranching... Just setting up 2 ranches to feed 8 dupes and get some power early on and as your base expands, adding more advanced critters... It would last for about 3350 cycles which might be longer than you play for.

Either way, even if you do not have grand plans for playing more than 669 cycles, you might still want to dismantle hatch ranches, because sending your dupes to dig and move resources makes it inferior source of both food and power in late game.

Another thing that I should mention. If you are ready to pretty much give up on coal, you can feed your hatches/sage hatches food. You might not know how good it is or bad it is, depending on your perspective. I will cover some food options that I personally consider interesting, it would take too long to cover everything:

1. Mealwood. The first idea that comes to mind is saving dirt through using dirt on mealwood. If we dupe harvest mealwood, 8 hatches actually require 29 domestic mealwood plants which lowers their dirt consumption to 290 kg/cycle (from their normal 1120 kg/cycle). Keep in mind, that 8 sage hatches would feed 4 dupes and 4 dupes actually require 20 mealwood plants. So, you would be spending more dirt and dupe work to just upgrade food quality. I should also mention self harvesting mealwood, you would need 68 plants (680 kg/cycle is still less than 1120 kg/cycle). In comparison, 4 dupes require 47 self harvesting mealwood.

2. Lettuce. The second idea is to look for the most space efficient wild plant that could be fed to hatches. Lettuce appears to be that plant, since you would only need 58 wild waterweed to feed the 8 sage hatches. For that reason, you might also consider that you would only require 15 domestic waterweed to do the same. Lettuce also might be the only food that is better to be fed to hatches rather than dupes... You would need 24 waterweeds to feed 4 dupes. So, that might make lettuce fed to sage hatches into the most water efficient food source.

Still, it might be better to get meat from other critters, because there are some that require no input.

Lastly, I should mention smooth hatches, unlike other hatches, they help you to refine metals. There is not much to talk about as they are basically a specialized critter that would only be ranched for the sake of refining metal, not food. Smooth hatches are less efficient than metal refinery and require significant investment of metal fed to stone hatches before they produce smooth hatch eggs. On the flip side, they are better than rock crushers, so, they might sometimes be a worthy investment to skip rock crusher, but should be discarded as soon as you can build proper metal refinery. As for sustainability... 8 smooth hatches would eat all metal on the entire asteroid within like 250 cycles.



The next in line among critter is pip. It is the most recently added critter to the game, but it also feels almost as basic as a hatch. Unlike hatches, you have some light limitation for temperature at which you can ranch them. The limitation for temperature comes from arbor trees only growing at 15-40C. For the most part, it should not be hard to keep your base at those temperatures, but it is possible that your pip ranch will go outside those temps. Though, We can still place them inside any gas environment.

8 pips require either 3 wild arbor trees or 1 domestic arbor tree. I found 2 trees being too little and 3 trees being too much actually, I have not been able to effectively calculate how much do they actually need, but 1 tree per 3 pips seem to be a right ratio. Pips eat arbor tree directly, similar to drecko, so you cant use critter feeder and must place those trees directly inside the ranch. Here is an example:


Don't pay attention to the trees on the right, they are not required, I am just being space efficient.

Moving onto pips outputs. Compared to hatches, they are worth 2 times less meat, but just like hatches, they live for 100 cycles, so most calculations are the same between hatches and pips:


Overcompensating by 1, we calculate that:

8 pips gives enough food for:
omelette -> 3 dupes
barbeque -> 2 dupes

Do notice, when used for omelette they are better than when used for meat. That makes them another entry level food source. Though, unlike hatches, if you use wild arbor trees, they are free food.

Another resource that pips produce is dirt. Dirt is both really expensive and completely worthless, depending on when ever you are actually using it, because it is quite easy to build a base that does not use any dirt.

Our expected output from 8 pips is 140 kg/cycle of dirt

The first way to make use of dirt is to feed it to mealwood. We can easily support 14 plants... With dupe harvest, 1 dupe requires 5 plants and with self harvest 1 dupe needs 11.6 plants. If you combine omelette with the mealwood, 1 pip ranch can support more dupes than 1 hatch ranch, but has lower quality of food. Another use for dirt would be actually feeding it to sage hatches, 140 kg/cycle happens to be exactly how much 1 sage hatch eats. But it is not worthwhile. Dirt is also required by sleet wheat, nosh sprout and oxyferns, but I will not go into details for those... I will also only mention that dirt can be turned into sand, potentially competing with pokeshell critters. One more use for dirt is making fertilization. Fertilizer maker requires 39 kg/cycle of dirt.

Another notable characteristic of pips is that they are happy to plant seeds into wild tiles as wild plants, but it is not really related to ranching pips... Other than when building a ranch, you can use them to plant wild arbor trees which they will use as food.

Also, Pips allow you to obtain more arbor trees seeds. Through many experiments, I determined, that they sometimes touch a tree and their touch does 2 things:

- increase chance that the tree branch will drop a seed.
- with a lower chance, pull out a seed straight from the tree.

I also determined that they only see a tree with all branches at 100% as a possible target for the touch. It has several implications. First of all, when you try to produce seeds inside the ranch, you will kind of fail, because they will eat the trees, keeping them below 100% and as the result, never touching them. What you want, is ungroomed pips, because when a critter is ungroomed it eats 5 less often, put inside a room with preferably domestic arbor trees.

On the topic of ungroomed ranching. If you do not need any food, but in a need for dirt, you can put 15 pips in a room with 1 tree and have 60 kg/cycle of dirt.



Omg, they are useless.

When I looked at them for the first time, they appeared to be a lot like hatches with an added challenge of attacking dupes, but as I looked through their details I only saw a critter of questionable usefulness. First of all, you should not ranch them for food, because they do not drop meat on death and pips are strictly better for omelette. So, if you would ranch them, you would ranch them for their other outputs of which they have 2:

1. Sand. They convert polluted dirt to sand at 50% efficiency. First problem is that sand is mostly useless since both water sieve and deodirizer can function with abundant regolith. The other 2 uses for sand which is making glass and making domestic dasha salvine are also questionable. While glass is useful, your starting sand might cover all of your needs for glass and you can use rock crushers for sand. Dasha salvine is also questionable as until there is no good use for salt, it is also also useless. (making oxygen from rust + salt is kinda useful, but you should remember that same biome contains mineable salt which will cover your needs for salt)

2. Lime. When killed, instead of meat, they drop pokeshell molt which can be turned into lime. The lime output is okay if you do not consider the cost of running pokeshell ranch. The argument against it is that you will have enough lime just from the eggs from other critters and you also get a lot of lime from processing fossils.

The cost that I have mention is 140 kg/cycle of polluted dirt per pokeshell. There is no good way of producing polluted dirt in that amount, even running ethanol chain does not cover the entire ranch, you would need 2 of them. Another argument against pokeshells is that you can already convert dirt to sand in 50% ratio. First, you can turn polluted dirt to dirt with compost with 100% efficiency. Second, you can cook dirt to sand at 326C. Third, you mine the resulted sand block resulting at 50% of sand. 326C is above safe temperature for steel, but, considering that the actual need for sand comes from making glass, I should mention that making glass can be used to make sand by dripping the molten glass onto the sufficiently hot dirt.

One more unique feature of the pokeshell is that it is the only critter that can be made to attack things, but I have not been able to come up with a use of that feature that is effective. (drowning critters is better)

The time when you could consider pokeshell ranch is when you for some reason do not have other critter ranches which means you do not have egg shells for lime and you are making use of ethanol to produce a lot of polluted dirt.

To be continued... I did not realize how long it will take to cover every critter, I have pretty much used the entire today for this :D 

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44 minutes ago, thorstein92 said:

So hatch farm gives us roughly 30000 dupocycles of food and 5GJ of power. (14000 coalgeneneratorcycles) until we cleared the map


2 hours ago, DarkMoge said:

Just setting up 2 ranches to feed 8 dupes and get some power early on and as your base expands, adding more advanced critters... It would last for about 3350 cycles which might be longer than you play for.


2 hours ago, DarkMoge said:

- Suppose that you want to get 40 dupes and let your base live past cycle 2000. That means, with our ratios, you will require 80 hatches.


2 hours ago, DarkMoge said:

7 500 000 / (140 * 80) = 669
Your base would only last 669 cycles


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I am finding pokeshells pretty useful for saving dupe time: I have a bunch of them confined to my ethanol distilleries, which saves dupes from running there all the time to pick up polluted dirt, compost it, etc. The sand that the pokeshells leave behind is picked up by an autosweeper and dropped off closer to my normal traffic. I know, I could be picking up the polluted dirt instead and bringing it to the dupes, but then they would still have to flip the composts, and I just don't need that much dirt (I need some, but I constantly have to sift water anyway, so I have no dirt shortage).

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10 hours ago, DarkMoge said:


Omg, they are useless.

The cost that I have mention is 140 kg/cycle of polluted dirt per pokeshell. There is no good way of producing polluted dirt in that amount, even running ethanol chain does not cover the entire ranch, you would need 2 of them.

You're missing vital details here:

  • 1 (one) groomed pokeshell produces more lime than a whole stable full of hatches or slicksters
  • Critters wreck CPU. ONI is badly optimized in regards to AI and once you exceed a critical mass of critters, you'll start missing "AI cycles", which will waste a lot of dupe time. Meaning you can't just wildranch more critters to reach pokeshell's efficiency without them.
  • Steel is THE limiting resource for "space cap" and the monument. You're unlikely to get enough for both just from fossils, it'll take hundreds of cycles of ranching critters on top of that. Even if you go full carnivore with 20 dupes.

Ethanol distiller is a misnomer. It's a polluted dirt distiller with an ethanol byproduct, just like we had a natural gas producer misnamed as "fertilizer maker" before it got nerfed into oblivion.

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Whose that pokemon! I choose you Pokeshell.  No! bad pokeshell, stop beating up mae. oh s***, he’s coming for me.

13 hours ago, DarkMoge said:

2nd is dumping critters into some space and trying to maintain their population without grooming them

I would like to know more about that. I have mentioned something similar in my other posts on sustainability where it would be possible to maintain them by feeding them once near the beginning of their lives, or in the case of pips/dreckos, continuously on small quantities to reset their starving timer to produce an egg before they die.

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4 hours ago, Coolthulhu said:

You're missing vital details here:

  • 1 (one) groomed pokeshell produces more lime than a whole stable full of hatches or slicksters

They're roughly on par with Pacus. 75 cycle lifespan, produces 2 molts and 1 eggshell, vs. Pacu 25 cycle lifespan, only produces eggshell.

The main thing he's missing is you don't need to feed them. Just let 'em go wild and keep them in a storage room somewhere. The main reason to feed them is if you want to increase your Pokeshell population rather than just keep the population stable.

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1 minute ago, Sasza22 said:

For optimal lime production you should kill off all pokeshells once they mature except one that will keep reproducing.

Keep so much as you think resonable in stable with your p. dirt production and kill only newborns is probably better :).

Just as hydrogenless drecko fiber. Except thing that you are only limited by p.dirt, not by lag :)

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Just now, Sasza22 said:

It`s not. After they mature they drop a 5kg molt. When mature ones die they drop a 10kg molt. Killing newborn wastes 10kg of potential lime.

I didn't ranch pokemons yet. I assumed that they are just like hatches in outputs.

So the same rule with the starve buffer room for newborns should work. Yes?

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2 minutes ago, thorstein92 said:

So the same rule with the starve buffer room for newborns should work. Yes?

Probably yes. Mostly they behave like hatches except the different diet and occasional attacking everything. The important thing is that they drop a molt at the age of 5 when they mature and at the age of 100 when they die or earlier if you kill them (at last i think they drop it, i actually didn`t test that).

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