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This is part two of a question (link to Pre-Spaceflight alien agriculture part I: herbivores and grazers) last time I asked what would Agriculture look like for sentient herbivores, trying to figure out what it would be like. This time we are going to look at the other side of the coin.

As stated in the previous part, it is widely speculated that any intelligent species we meet will evolve from predators. Now the logic is pretty sound because meat has more energy to power bigger and better brains than your food, not to mention you have to outsmart your food while it’s trying to run away from you. Not to mention our intelligence took off when our ancestors gave meat a try, and then invented the first knives and spears specifically to get more of it. So crafty hunters becoming a civilization is to be expected.

But hunting animals for food and domesticating them for food are two very different things how would they produce food for a preindustrial civilization? How would they preserve their food? Would they attempt to diversify the animals they care for? What would the environment look like from their efforts to feed their civilization? So many questions that need to be addressed. This brings me to my question.

What would agriculture look like for a species of sentient carnivores?

edit: apparently I was not providing enough details and my question was closed so I decided to try and add clarifying details. First off the possibility was raised of carnivorous food which I will now say is perhaps the stupidest thing I ever heard in my life, because you then have to raise animals for your food to eat and most humans would rather farm the big plant eaters than going through the trouble of eating carnivores. Why raise chickens to fatten up the foxes for dinner, when it would be simpler and tastier to just eat the chicken? So for this experiment there are three wrungs on this alien farm food chain, the plants the livestock eat, the livestock, and the farmers and sheep/guard dog equivalents. Keep it simple.

The second was the question of environments, so this is what I came up with. The environment is fairly plant rich, like jungle or forests but there are seasonal variations. Up north you get snow storms and blizzards but closer to the equator, you get seasons of wet and dry, which brings to mind the question of how to store food for the tough times. I hope these new details are enough, so can we please reopen this question and please, please, please stop closing my questions that I work so hard on.

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  • $\begingroup$ In what environment? Just thinking about the different preservation techniques found in arctic tundra contrasted with desert. The same goes for the available wildlife, cattle being easier to corral than seals. As to variety, if seals are all there is, the you eat seals, if you have a choice which is seasonal - we need more information about your world to answer. The question needs a bit of focusing down. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Jan 26 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ The thing here is that to answer your question regarding this topic we need more info on your sentiment carnivores and their environment: where do they live? Is it a dense tropical forest, a biome of grassy plains, a biome which goes through harsh snowy winter or something else? What do they prey on? Are their favored prey items grazing herbivores, omnivores or non sentient strict carnivores? This is important because the answer basically revolves around how to mass produce animals in their habitat (wilk covered well a scenario of grazing herbivores in a biome which goes through harsh winter). $\endgroup$ – ProjectApex Jan 27 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ I looked at the edit. You need more specific conditions to give an answer meaning. Like "What would agriculture look like for intelligent Lion-based predators on a Savanna with modern tech who need a diverse mix of meats of equal variety to their ancestors?" Or :What does a sentient werewolf like carnivorous race in the equivalent of central China with medieval Chinese tech develop for agriculture to maximize population density?" $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jan 28 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ Threatening who VTC like you did is not cool and goes against SE policies $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 28 at 4:01
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Game management.

  1. They kill prey animals.

  2. They kill other predators that are competing with themselves for prey animals.

  3. They kill other herbivores competing with their favored prey animals.

  4. They kill plants that compete with the plants favored by their prey animals.

Now there is a land hosting prey animals managed to maximize food for prey animals and minimize nonsentient predation.


They put up barriers so favored prey animals cannot wander away.

They collect plant foods that the animals like and dry them out and save them. During hard winters they provide their prey animals this extra food so they wont die.

They don't kill reproductive age female prey animals because they want lots of baby prey and you need the females for that.

They don't kill the males that have traits they like (e.g big, not fierce), because they want those ones to be the only available fathers so those traits spread.

They associate with the prey animals. The prey animals get used to them. They do not kill prey animals in a way obvious to other prey animals. They prey animals come to see their only predators as harmless sources of food.


They don't preserve meat because eww. They eat fresh meat. They preserve live animals by keeping them alive and well.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Hard winters" and "jungle world" don't jive well. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jan 26 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ How can carnivorous prey hunt and eat if they're penned-up? There are no herbivores in evidence on-land in some places. The question is not clear. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Jan 26 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Tantalus'touch: if there are no herbivores in evidence, will there be carnivores? Prey or otherwise? I hope you say yes because I want to hear more about this land. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 26 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ If their prey is also carnivorous, then they would have to farm creatures for their food to eat, and that leads down an overcomplicated rabbit hole that I didn't have to think I should have marked off because the most effective solution is farming the plant-eaters and eating those. $\endgroup$ – Jacob Badger Jan 26 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Well indeed, so do I. There is nothing in evidence because the OP didn't tell us about it. I suppose it might be possible to corral some penguins in such a way to allow fish in, but without plant fiber in quantity I'd like to see anyone make 10 acres of net with sinew. @Willk $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Jan 26 at 23:45
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our intelligence took off when our ancestors gave meat a try, and then invented the first knives and spears specifically to get more of it. So crafty hunters becoming a civilization is to be expected.

I think that also in this case you are missing an important step that would make what you envision unlikely.

How does agriculture starts? It starts from the observation that some seeds which were abandoned in a place the following year bring fruit. Then the creature who made this observation can think "if I leave a seed and next year I get more, I don't need to go around seeking for food, let's give it a try", and if the conditions are right that can work rather well. And while they are at growing plants, they notice that some animals get close to their plants and can be domesticated. And so the river civilizations can start.

But if you don't have domesticated or semi-domesticated plants, you won't be able to domesticate animals. And a carnivore would hardly make the link on the dropped seed and the following year harvest, because it would be none of their interest. After all they are after the animals, and whatever seed those animals use, it does nothing once left on the ground.

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