Chickens are all well and good, and if you want smaller, easier-to-maintain animals only you can settle yourself with a Coop in Stardew Valley. But everybody knows the real cash is in Barn animals, and though they’re a bit more of a hassle than poultry, it’s ultimately quite worth it to have a few quadrupeds on your farm. For that you’ll need a Barn.
Constructing a Barn is no small task for a new farmer. You need some fairly extensive resources to get the job done, and you’ll likely need at least a few months before you scrape everything together and pay Robin’s Carpenter’s Shop a visit. You’ll need the following for a basic Barn:
- 6,000 gold
- 350 Wood
- 150 Stone
You’ll also need sufficient land to fit the Barn, as it’s one of the biggest buildings you can create in Stardew Valley. I also highly recommend you build a Silo on your property (100 gold, 100 Stone, 10 Clay, five Copper Bars), as you’ll need somewhere to store Hay to feed your barn animals.
The most basic of creatures to house in your Barn are Cows. Cows are cheery, dopey-looking creatures that wander around your property and eat all your grass. If you use a Milk Pail on a Cow there’s a chance it will give you either a Milk or a Large Milk, which you can then sell or turn into Cheese via a Cheese Press for greater profits. Cows can be purchased from Marnie’s Ranch, south of your farm, for 1,500 gold.
Cows begin life as tiny calves, and for the first week or so of life they will not produce any Milk. You still need to feed them during this time, and, preferably, lavish them with affection by interacting with your Cow every day. Once a Cow beefs up and begins prominently displaying its udders you can begin using the Milk Pail to gather Milk directly from the Cow. The happier the Cow, the more likely it is you’ll receive Milk.
Cows require two basic forms of care, basically every day of their lives:
- Feed. Cows need food, like any other living creature. An unfed Cow is an unhappy Cow, and an unhappy Cow will not produce Milk. More on feeding Cows below.
- Affection. Similarly to the NPCs of Pelican Town, Cows have affection bars, though they only go up to five hearts. Right-click on a Cow and you’ll receive a small boost to its affection. You should, preferably, do this every day.
Feeding your Cows is more essential than petting them, that said. There are two ways to feed a Cow:
- Put Hay in their Barn. In the north of the Barn is a long trough, and beside it is a container with some Hay jutting out. Assuming you have Hay in your Silo you can pull Hay out of this container and place it into the trough. The Cow will eat the Hay overnight. Hay can be harvested by slicing down tall grass with a Scythe or purchasing it from Marnie’s Ranch.
- Let your Cows feed themselves. There’s a door on the front of your Barn, and if you pop it open Cows will roam freely around the property on fair-weather days (not during rain, and never during the Winter). Plant Grass Starters from Pierre’s General Store on your property and Cows will seek it out and eat it.
You’ll probably want to implement a combination of the two methods: line your troughs with feed, just in case the weather’s bad, but fill an area in front of the Barn with grass the rest of the time. Grass grows and spreads, making it more cost-effective in the long run.
Upgrading your Barn
Each Barn has two potential upgrades. These upgrades will allow you to house more animals at once, as well as unlock additional animals for purchase at Marnie’s Ranch. They are as follows:
- Big Barns. Big Barns allow you to store up to eight animals, and unlock Goats, which will create Goat Milk. Big Barns also allow your barn animals to occasionally become pregnant and bear offspring. Big Barns cost 12,000 gold, 450 Wood, and 200 Stone.
- Deluxe Barns. Deluxe Barns allow you to store up to twelve animals, and unlock Sheep and Pigs, which produce Wool (via Sheers from Marnie’s Ranch) and Truffles, respectively. Deluxe Barns also contain an auto-feeder that will ensure your animals are fed if they haven’t already eaten on any given day. Deluxe Barns cost 25,000 gold, 550 Wood, and 300 Stone.
Note that you cannot simply purchase a Deluxe Barn from the get-go and call it a day. In order to unlock the second and third upgrades you must start with a Barn and work your way up.
Maintaining a successful Barn is a lot of work. Here are some tips for doing the job properly:
- Fence off your Barn. Barn animals wander a lot, and it’s difficult to track them down and milk / shear them if you don’t know where they are. Barring that, you can begin the day with the front of the Barn closed, go inside to do your work, and then open the door up once you’re done.
- Keep a large field of grass near your Barn, particularly if you also have a Coop on your farm. Your animals consume a single piece of Hay or a single swath of grass a day, and it’s much, much cheaper to have them eating grass.
- Save up lots of Hay for the Winter, when grass is no longer available. Each animal eats one Hay a day, so take the number of animals you own and multiply it by 28. That’s how much Hay you’ll need to survive a Winter with contented animals.
- Your animals will get irritated if they’re cold during the Winter. You can offset this by purchasing a Heater and placing it in your Barn. Heaters cost 2,000 gold at Marnie’s Ranch.
- Turn your Milk into Cheese! Cheese doesn’t take long to create via Cheese Press, and you’ll make more money out of the bargain. Cheese is also usually regarded more favourably as a gift than straight Milk.
- Unlike the other animals, which produce their items inside the Barn, Pigs can root up Truffles anywhere. Keep an eye on the grounds of your farm if you let your Pigs roam freely.
- Affection is more important than ensuring production of Milk / Wool / Truffles / whatever. It also drives up the sale price of your animal, and there will probably be times when you want to sell an animal. Right-click on the animal and you’ll see a coin icon; this will tell you how much your animal is worth if sold, and will allow you sell it on the spot. Always pet your animals to maximize their market price.