Pet Cow Basics
When you exit the Cherry Tree beginners area, the first shop you come to is the pet shop. The proprietor, Vocoria Stilwell will sell you a pair of baby 'teacup' sized cows.
Raising and breeding these cows can be interesting and rewarding. Note that all of the pet cows are hermaphrodites (no bull / cow distinctions),
Feeding Your Cows
Your cows will only eat "green vegetation" which limits their food in the game (so far) to hops. Hops can be harvested at several open farm locations in Sweet Chestnut Village or you can build your own hop farms by purchasing the scrolls at the Scroll Shop and building them on any open ground. You can feed a cow by selecting and "using" it in your inventory (or put them in a quick slot) and choosing "Feed from backpack". Of course you must have the 4 hops to feed it in your backpack or the cow will not grow. Successfully feeding a baby cow also earns experience points (XP). Raising a baby cow from birth to age 20 will earn a total of 100XP.
Cows start off as "Baby Cows", "newly born", age 1 year. Each time (mostly) that you feed them 4 hops they will age 1 year. Occasionally, feeding the cows has no effect. You must let them rest for at least one hour between feedings.
When you "use" your cow in inventory, you have the option to change the name of your cows in the usage screen. This is useful as your herd grows because the names are assigned randomly at birth and often duplicate the names of your older cows. When a cow turns 20, it is still classed as a 'Baby Cow' but can breed with any cow between age 21 and 50. It does not however, show as a selection for another cow to breed with.
As cows turn 21 years old they become "Young Adult Cows". They start to produce milk when fed and can be bred by using the "breeding" option when selected. Cows continue to give milk when fed until their age exceeds 40 years and they become "Mature Adult Cows". When bred, cows will age from 4 to 9 years. Breeding uses 30 turns and is not always successful, but if it fails the cows do not age. If at first you don't succeed try again, but note that it may fail several times. You may continue to breed the cows until their age exceeds 50 years.
Cows may be butchered at any age and you will receive one beef and one cheese. If you send "Baby Cows" to the butcher you may also receive leather which can be used in crafting. You can continue to feed your cow until its age exceeds 55 at which time it will pass on leaving you with one "special beef from your cow" and three cheese. The special beef is indeed special as when eaten it will restore 50 Hit Points.
"Pure" Colored Cows
One goal of cow breeding is to produce any of the rare "Pure" colored cows. These sometimes produce special or magic items instead of milk. The special items are produced as follows:
Pure Red Cows : Chocolate Milk (+3 hitpoints healing)
Pure Green Cows : Poison (flask of green liquid possibly for future crafting, using it kills you)
Pure Blue Cows : Amrit (flask of yellow liquid +10 permanently to maximum hit points)
Pure White Cows : Elixir (flask of blue liquid used in crafting)
Pure Black Cows : Black Ink (ink bottle used in crafting)
Note that overindulgence in Amrit can lead to developing a tolerance, which makes further use ineffective.
The cows come in many color groups and the cow's color group is evaluated in the following order
- Pure White ------ (R, G, B all high with the lowest value being 241 [hexadecimal F1] or greater)
- Pure Black ------ (R, G, B all low with the highest value being 19 [hexadecimal 13] or less)
- Pure Red -------- (R greater than 230 [hexadecimal E6], R & G less than 30 [hex 1E])
- Pure Green ----- (G greater than 230 [hexadecimal E6], R & G less than 50 [hex 32])
- Pure Blue ------- (B greater than 230 [hexadecimal E6], R & G less than 30 [hex 1E])
- Snow ------------- (R, G, B all high with the lowest value being 231 to 240 [hexadecimal E7 to F0])
- Ghost White ---- (R, G, B all high with the lowest value being 229 to 230 [hexadecimal E5 to E6])
- Night ------------- (R, G, B all low with the highest value being 20 to 49 [hexadecimal 14 to 31])
- Gray --------------(R=G=B all colours equal with values 50 to 228 [hexadecimal 32 to E4])
- Red -------------- (R > G + B)
- Green ------------ (G > R + B)
- Blue -------------- (B > R + G)
- Purple ------------ (R + B > 2 x G)
- Yellow ------------ (R + G > 2 x B)
- Moonlight -------- (B > G) gives Elixir (flask of blue liquid used in crafting) instead of milk
- Shady Green --- (G > B)
- Unusual ---------- (anything that makes it through the above filters, usually two colors with exactly the same value)
- (maybe more)
All of the color groups above are approximations of the cow's true color, which is the R-G-B atributes of their color as seen when they are "used". This is why the color when the cow is "used" may be quite different from the color shown before selection. For instance, to be considered "Red", a cow's R(ed) component must be higher than the sum of the G(reen) and B(lue) components, but if green is almost as high as red and blue is very low, the "Red" cow may appear yellow when "used".
Disclaimer: There have been modifications to the game's cow breeding calculations made in the past and may be again in the future. The following is accurate at the time of writing.
Cow breeding is definitive, not random. A baby cow's RGB true color characteristics (Red,Green & Blue color attributes when 'used') derive entirely from the true color characteristics of the parent cows. Only the names (Elsie, Daisy, etc.) are randomly assigned. The total number of different cows possible is 16,777,216 (hexadecimal FFFFFF).
The cow's RGB color attributes can each range from hexadecimal (base 16) 00 to FF (numeric value range of 0 to 255). Thus a perfect Pure Black cow has hexadecimal RGB attributes 00,00,00 and a perfect Pure White cow hexadecimal attributes FF,FF,FF. When breeding, the resulting baby cow has the sum of the two parent's colour characteristics. Just to make it difficult, the resulting baby cow's attributes are actually calculated by adding the most significant and least significant digits seperately, rolling over with no carry. That is, the result for each attribute byte is the independent sum of the two parents attributes most significant digits and the sum of the two parents attributes least significant digits each with a value of only 0 to F. For example, E8 + 17 = FF , E8 + 18 = F0 (instead of 100), E8 + 28 = 10 (instead of 20). This causes the decimal summation to be 16 less than the expected sum 50% of the time. (thanks to Odin for clarification)
The Cow Grid
All possible unique cows from only two ancestor cows may be arranged on 256 squares in a 16 x 16 grid. This can be drawn with 0X0Y to 15X0Y horizontally and 0X0Y to 0X15Y vertically. The corner diagonally opposite from 0X0Y would be 15X15Y. The grid allows you to keep track of the cows you have produced and makes it easier to determine what additional unique cows may be bred in the future. If cows have identical RGB attributes they are "genetically" identical, are interchangeable as prospective parents when breeding and will produce identical offspring.
This section provides a simplified explanation of the 'genetics' of cow breeding that can be applied without regard to the RGB color attributes of the cows. Planned breeding to produce any specific cow on the grid is possible if breeding is carefully planned and complete records are kept of all breeding activities.
Breeding on the Grid
All offspring of your two original cows are all genetically the sum of their parents, not only part of each. To demonstrate, let us designate the two original ancestor cows as Cow X (genetically described as 1X0Y) and Cow Y (genetically described as 0X1Y).
Original Cow1 1X0Y (Cow X, having only the X gene)
Original Cow2 0X1Y (Cow Y, having only the Y gene)
The first possible offspring of these two cows would then be:
1X0Y + 0X1Y = 1X1Y (Cow A, having 1X and 1Y genes)
This formula can be extended to all offspring and will hold true as long as no additional cows are added from outside of the original pair and their resulting offspring.
This gives us three genetically different cows which may be interbred as follows:
1X1Y + 1X1Y = 2X2Y (Cow B, having 2X and 2Y genes)
1X0Y + 1X1Y = 2X1Y (Cow C, having 2X and 1Y genes)
0X1Y + 1X1Y = 1X2Y (Cow D, having 1X and 2Y genes)
This gives us six genetically different cows which may be interbred as follows:
2X2Y + 1X0Y = 3X2Y (Cow E, having 3X and 2Y genes)
2X2Y + 0X1Y = 2X3Y (Cow F, having 2X and 3Y genes)
2X2Y + 1X1Y = 3X3Y (Cow G, having 3X and 3Y genes)
2X1Y + 1X0Y = 3X1Y (Cow H, having 3X and 1Y genes)
2X1Y + 1X1Y = 3X2Y (Cow I, having 3X and 2Y genes)
1X2Y + 0X1Y = 1X3Y (Cow J, having 1X and 3Y genes)
2X2Y + 2X1Y = 4X3Y (Cow K, having 4X and 3Y genes)
2X2Y + 1X2Y = 3X4Y (Cow L, having 3X and 4Y genes)
2X1Y + 0X1Y = 2X2Y (identical to Cow B above)
1X2Y + 1X0Y = 2X2Y (identical to Cow B above)
1X2Y + 1X1Y = 2X3Y (identical to Cow F above)
2X1Y + 1X2Y = 3X3Y (identical to Cow G above)
Looking at the above, it is obvious that there are multiple paths to breeding identical cows.
The number of genetically unique cows that can be bred from two original cows is limited to 256. When the sum of your cow's genetic expressions exceed 15X or 15Y, you must subtract 16 as follows:
12X11Y + 7X6Y = 19X17Y = 3X1Y (identical to Cow H above)
When you know what grid location you want to breed for, you can add up several cows 'genes' to arrive at the required total. For example it is also possible to replicate cows that have grown too old to reproduce or have died. To replicate the original Cow Y, find a combination of cows that you have that add to the required genetic expression, (0X1Y):
8X7Y + 4X6Y + 3X2Y + 1X2Y = 16X17Y = 0X1Y
Note that the four (or more) cows may be bred together in any sequence as long as the total is correct. The following two breeding procedures:
8X7Y + 1X2Y = 9X9Y
4X6Y + 3X2Y = 7X8Y
9X9Y + 7X8Y = 16X17Y = 0X1Y
8X7Y + 1X2Y = 9X9Y
9X9Y + 4X6Y = 13X15Y
13X15Y + 3X2Y = 16X17Y = 0X1Y
are exactly equivalent.
The breeding described holds true starting with any two cows as "ancestor" cows. However, if the cows selected already have common ancestry, the resulting number of actually different cows will be reduced and possibly severely limited with duplication of cows across the grid. As an example of one severe case, if you were to start with two cows that are genetically 2X2Y and 4X4Y produced from random breeding, it would only be possible to produce eight unique cows (2X2Y, 4X4Y, 6X6Y, 8X8Y, 10X10Y, 12X12Y, 14X14Y and 0X0Y). As in the real world, close inbreeding can greatly reduce genetic variation.
Multiple Cow Grids
The single Cow Grid method always holds true as long as all cows are descended from only two cows (X and Y). If you introduce a third cow (Z), this would create a Cow Cube (a stack of 16 Cow Grids) with 4,096 unique cows which could be bred. Using four cows increases the number of possible unique cows to 65,536 (16 Cow Cubes), five cows to 1,048,576 (256 Cow Cubes) and six cows to the maximum of 16,777,216 (4096 Cow Cubes). Note that for the maximum unique numbers given here that each of the six cows must not be the result of breeding from any of the other cows nor appear on any of the previous Cow Grids. The genetic addition formulas above continue to hold true for any number of cows, just adding additional genetic factors for each cow (X,Y,Z,A,B,C...), so it is very important to keep an accurate record of all breeding activities.
"Pure" Colored Cows
Regardless of which Cow X and Cow Y that you start out with, it will always be possible to produce a Pure Black cow. However, this is the only common type. There is no guarantee that any one of the 256 possible cows on the grid will be one of the other "Pure" colored cows.
If you wish to produce multiple different "Pure" colored cows, it will probably be necessary to acquire at least one unrelated cow from an outside source to introduce "new blood" to your breeding program and experiment with additional cow grids.