Animal and Meat Farming
Cooked meats are the best all-around foods in the game, excepting only those crafted with gold. To have meat readily available, one must farm animals. Farming animals also provides several other useful items: leather, feathers, wool, and eggs. A manual-slaughter farm can also provide a fair bit of experience.
 Basic farming
A "manual" animal farming is pretty simple:
- Round up some (at least two) animals into a pen. Fences are classic, and avoid suffocation.
- Breed them until you have a reasonable number (or they're bursting out of the pen).
- Slaughter most of them, and profit. Breed some more....
To lead animals around, you need to wield the same food that you can breed them with (or a lead if you have slimeballs): Wheat for cows, mooshrooms, and sheep; carrots for pigs; wheat or other seeds (including netherwart) for chickens. Once you've got them into the pen, start feeding them -- as they go into love mode, they'll pair off and produce babies. (They will also produce experience orbs, make sure to collect them!) You can breed the animals about every 5 minutes, getting one young for each two adult animals in your herd. The babies will take about 20 minutes to grow up, so don't slaughter too many adults too fast.
There are natural limits to how many animals you can keep in a given pen -- In particular, if it gets too crowded, animals will be pushed into the walls of the pen. If those are solid blocks, the animals will then suffocate; if the walls are fences, glass, or other transparent blocks, the animals can be pushed right through them, to wander the landscape! Usually the latter is better, since you can always hunt down escapees. Crowding through the walls is a particular problem after breeding, as baby animals can push the adults into the walls.
For sheep, you naturally shouldn't slaughter them, just dye them as desired, and shear them regularly. They will also need a fairly large pen filled with grass, to recover their wool after shearing.
Chickens are a special case, because not only do they breed with wheat seeds, but they also lay eggs, and throwing eggs has a chance to produce chicks. This makes them very easy to multiply in general. The annoyance of having regularly gather the eggs prompted the development of "egg farms", where a flock of chickens are kept on water, and their eggs are gathered by the current to some central place. The recent introduction of the hopper now allows the eggs to be automatically stored, and even brought to a dispenser for auto-hatching.
 Automated Animal Farming
 Cruddly's Steakatron 2000
1. Start with a double chest. This will be the front. To dress it up, put two item frames on the front, with a raw beef on the left and a steak on the right. This will help you remember which button to push to slaughter the cattle. Optional: use an anvil to rename one of the chests "Meat locker" and place it first.
3. Above the chest place a 2x2 of red stained glass (keeps the cleaning to a minimum!). (NB: Chests WILL open into transparent blocks).
4. Make a rear wall of glass.
5. For each side add a two stacks of opaque blocks 3 high to be the walls (level 1 is on the ground next to the hoppers). I use red brick, to keep the cleaning to a minimum.
- Make the top front block on each side a dispenser pointing inward, with a button on its front side. Put a bucket of water in the top left one, and a bucket of lava in the top right one.
- Place signs inside at 'ground' level on the 4 internal walls of the blocks. This will hold our killing liquid above the heads of the calves.
- Make stairs running up to the roof for the left side.
6. Add a roof of a ring of stairs around the outside and attaching trapdoors to the bottom of the side stairs directly above the internal space. That's 4 trapdoors.
1. Lead your cows inside by holding wheat and standing on top opposite the stairs with the trapdoors open, then close all trapdoors and get down. Kill any remaining cattle by hand. This will be the last time you HAVE to manually slaughter cattle.
2. Stuff some wheat into your meat locker.
1. Grab wheat from your meat locker, go up stairs, open some trapdoors, and feed all the cows. Close all trapdoors when done.
2. Decide whether you want raw beef (useful for trading with village butchers) or cooked steak (useful for eating). Press the appropriate button, wait for the adults to die, then press the button again. Lava takes moments, water takes minutes. Of course, if you are desperate for experience, you can open the trapdoors and slaughter by hand.
3. Grab your produce from the meat locker and walk away.
If you ever need to lead some cattle away to elsewhere, leave the trapdoors open, hit the water button until sufficient have escaped.
 DJ&Riggaz Automatic Cooked Beef and Leather Farm
Video tutorial is available here. In trying to make an automatic cow farm that actually cooks the meat into beef before the cow dies is a problem that a lot of people face. The big question in this is usually whether to use lava or netherrack. Well personally, I'd believe that using netherrack, as cows are so big allows for the best and most efficient farm. Using a breeding station of some description as the hub of the design, with a water flow from the breeding pen leading to the cows falling onto a single block of lit netherrack at the very end of the water flow, followed by being pushed off from pistons that are underneath the last water block after a few seconds will cause the cow to die in a burning fashion a lot of the time, ultimately giving you beef as well as some leather.
 Cruddly's Porkatron 3000
To greatly speed up the production of raw porkchops and cooked porkchops. Incorporates an auto BBQ (existing art). It utilizes a gap made by a Redstone Repeater with a block above to separate the pigs and piglets.
Step 1: Auto BBQ
a. Place a chest looking to the left of the desired machine area.
b. Connect a hopper in front of the chest (from the machine perspective) to the chest. Above the hopper place a BBQ (furnace. On the right of the BBQ connect a hopper for fuel. To the right of this fuel hopper, place a solid block with a sign reading "Refuel BBQ here"
c. Above the BBQ connect a hopper for food (BBQ feeder).
Step 2: Cooking selection
a. Behind the BBQ feeder (2 blocks above the chest), connect another hopper (the collector) and then connect a hopper to the top of the chest (the selector).
b. To the left of the selector place a solid block, and place a lever on the block. Place a further block to the left of the last block with a sign reading "Raw" on the top and "Cooked" on the bottom.
Step 3: Separator
a. Behind the collector connect two more hoppers in a line (the floor).
b. Wrap the floor in blocks to create a 2 deep containment pit (slaughter house). It is advisable to use glass on the right side to make it easier to check if the pigs have drowned.
c. Remove the rear lowest wall block to extend the floor and place a gate (side gate). On the outside of the block to the left of the gate, place a lever. Next to the lever place a sign, at the top reading "Closed" and the bottom reading "Open".
d. Behind the gate place a Redstone Repeater and place a solid block above it. This creates a gap that baby pigs can pass through, but adult pigs cannot. This is the money...
Step 4: Finishing up
a. Behind the slaughterhouse create a 2 deep containment pit. From this pit have steps wind their way clockwise to level with the top of the slaughterhouse. Wrap the stairs in walls and roof suitable for pig containment and leading them to the slaughterhouse pit. Use plenty of glass to make it easy to see the piglets later.
b. Place a downward facing dispenser _in_ the rear top of the containment pit and put a bucket of water into it. On the outside of the block to the left of this dispenser place a button and a sign next to the button reading "Drowner".
c. In front of the dispenser, at the bottom of the top block, place a trapdoor. In front of the trapdoor, on top of the block at the top front of the slaughterhouse place a gate, and ensure the walls for pig containment connect neatly with the dispenser, trapdoor hole and gate (operator gate).
d. On the top of the dispenser place another gate (top gate).
e. Extend the area behind the operator gate for 3 blocks and create stair access from right side.
Lead your pigs via the operator stairs and gate into the slaughterhouse using carrots.
Note: It is advisable to briefly note these instructions on signs next to the machine.
1. Select cooking options: raw or cooked. Open side gate, close top gate. This will allow piglets to escape and be unable to re-enter the slaughterhouse.
2. Open the trapdoor. Feed / breed the pigs, close the trapdoor, then, still holding the carrots, proceed to the rear of the machine to entice piglets out of the slaughterhouse. Once all piglets are out, put the carrots away.
3. Return to the operator gate and look out to the left of the machine for the drowning button and press it. Wait till all pigs have died and press the button again to retract the water.
4. Close the side gate, hold your carrots again, and open the top gate to entice all piglets into the slaughterhouse. Once all piglets are in, close the trapdoor and collect your food from the chest. Note that if using the cooked option, there will be some delay whilst the BBQ slowly cooks all the food. Best to come back later and collect the finished product then.
Adult pigs cannot fall through a single trapdoor. A single water source dispenser will not drown in an block more than 1 square away. It is possible to use redstone dust to relocate all controls to the front of the machine or the operator gate area if so desired. It is also possible to use an inverter circuit to ensure the top gate and side gate are always in opposite states.