Why are my dwarves starving when there’s food available?

I’m new to Dwarf Fortress, and though I’ve started a nice fortress, for some reason my dwarves are always starving. According to my records, there is plenty of food: over 100 in the “other” category, over 300 seeds, and over twenty drink plus a well and a river. But I constantly receive messages that “Urist McDwarf cancelled Give Food: no food available” and “Urist McDwarf cancelled Drink: no water source”. Some are even hunting vermin. I think I’m getting the same problem with wood, because my carpenters are always cancelling tasks due to lack of wood even though there is a pile of it right outside the fortress door.

I already tried to remove walls and obstructions inside the fortress, but it didn’t help. Moving, adding, and configuring stockpiles also didn’t help. I see dwarves going to all of the locations of the things they need, but they almost never pick them up.

I’m using the Linux version. I don’t know if it has more glitches than the Windows version.

EDIT: I just embarked in a new world, and several minutes later my carpenter cancelled a task I gave him, claiming that there wasn’t enough wood even though I confirmed that the wood was available before assigning the task. A while after that, I started a stockpile underground, and I started getting error messages telling me that items couldn’t be moved to it. There are huge paths with no blockage.

I’m considering the possibility of a limit on the path-finding system that scales with processor power (which would give me shorter paths, because my computer is old). This article says that the algorithm has been known to fail more generally: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131954/interview_the_making_of_dwarf_.php?page=8

I might be able to fix it by clustering my fortress. I’ll try it tomorrow.


A few things may be preventing your dwarves from eating the available food or drinking the available alcohol. The main two culprits are:

  • No path available to the item or its container.
  • Dwarves aren’t permitted to travel where the food and drink is located.

Other things that stop dwarves from eating and drinking:

  • The food isn’t edible to dwarves. Examples: Seeds
  • The drink isn’t drinkable. Examples: Milk (shows up as other in foodstocks)
  • The item is forbidden.
  • The food or drink is claimed by a militia member as part of his/her food rations.

The dwarf fortress wiki has extensive articles on how to grow food, how to collect plants to eat or process (ie, cook in a kitchen) into edible food items, how to set up a still, etc. I’d suggest you look up plant collecting, still, food stock, and above ground farming. It is possible to farm underground, which uses a different set of plants (they can only be found in underground caverns or traded for with dwarven caravans) and requires easy soil layer access or making mud which sounds like it would just be an extra complication for you at this point in your dwarf fortress experience.

Source : Link , Question Author : Wutaz , Answer Author : StarPilot

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