DayZ Food Guide: Find Food, Grow, Hunt & Cook [2023]

Published: Dec. 15, 2023
Updated: Feb. 08, 2024

German English

After over 2,000 hours and 10 years in DayZ, Guided-Survival expert Kevin Willing has created the ultimate food guide for DayZ. The article covers everything about finding food, farming, hunting, and fishing, as well as preparation and its bonuses.

All methods to find/make food in DayZ:

  • In DayZ, you can sustain yourself on canned goods, nature, or cultivated plants.
  • Foods have varying amounts of calories, the best foods are meat & fat.
  • By fishing for fish and hunting animals, you can find especially high-quality food.
  • You can make food last longer in DayZ by smoking, cooking, or drying it.

Where can you Find Food in DayZ?

1. Check your inventory

Often, you already have some food. On vanilla servers, this is usually a fruit. On community servers, you might find canned goods or meat. Just check, maybe you're in luck!

Some DayZ servers will give you food from the start.

2. Search boats on the coast

You spawn on the coast, so use this to your advantage. Not only do you find food and tools in the small nutshell boats on the beach, but also water- and weatherproof clothing and backpacks. A good first stop – pun intended?

In boats you will find canned drinks.

3. Head inland to find more food

The coasts are often picked clean by numerous newcomers like you. There's not much left to find. Your best chance to find food in DayZ is inland. Especially small villages, ignored by most players, still have some supplies stored. To find your way, you can use this interactive map.

Because the coast is high frequent player spot, there is less loot.

4. Live off the land - Gather mushrooms and fruit

All over Chernarus and Livonia, there are forests and gardens. Here, you can find various food sources. Some require nothing, others require a firearm:

  • Mushrooms: These grow in forests, but are easy to overlook. Make sure you don't pick a poisonous one!
  • Fruits: Apples, pears, or plums, what will it be? All these fruits grow on trees in the region. In some places, you can even find entire orchards! The fruits then lie under the tree on the ground.
  • Wild & Farm Animals: Where do farm animals go when humans are gone? Naturally, also into the forest and onto the large meadows. If you own a firearm, you just need to go hunting. Roasted meat and especially fat provides by far the most calories. You can learn how to prepare food here.

Growing Food in DayZ: Planting, Caring, Harvesting

From hunter-gatherer to farmer. This has not only proven itself in human history but also in the zombie apocalypse. In DayZ, you don't have to find food, you can simply grow it. This requires a pack of seeds and the following tools:

  • Tool: Shovel or pickaxe to create a small field
  • Water: You need a water bottle or a canister full of water to water your plants.
  • Optional Fertilizer: "Garden Lime" helps your plants grow faster. However, this process doesn't take too much time anyway.
  • Time: Vegetables take different amounts of time to grow depending on server settings, but the standard times for this are as follows:

How long do tomatoes take to grow?

Tomatoes in DayZ are ripe for consumption after 8 minutes with perfect cultivation.

How long do zucchinis take to grow?

Zucchinis in DayZ are ripe for consumption after 6 minutes with perfect cultivation.

How long do pumpkins take to grow?

Pumpkins in DayZ are ripe for consumption after 7 minutes with perfect cultivation.

How long do peppers take to grow?

Peppers in DayZ are ripe for consumption after 6 minutes & 20 seconds with perfect cultivation.
You can watch your plants grow and thrive over time. After you've plowed your vegetables, you can naturally eat them. But save one or two fruits and cut them up. This way, you get new seeds, and the game starts all over again.

With water, seeds and lime, you can grow your own food.

Hunting Animals in DayZ: Locations, Methods & Loot

In addition to a vegetarian life or living off canned goods, you can also go hunting actively and passively. In doing so, you hunt animals that fall into four different categories:

  • Fish (Fresh & Saltwater)
    • Carp (Freshwater)
    • Sardines (Saltwater)
    • Mackerel (Saltwater)
  • Farm Animals (Farms, fields near villages, villages)
    • Cows
    • Chickens
    • Goats
  • Wild Animals (Forests, edges of forests & fields)
    • Deer
    • Does
    • Wild boars
  • Predators (Edges of the map)
    • Wolves
    • Bears

1. How to Catch Fish

You can catch fish in two different ways, with traps and fishing rods. As a trap, you can use a plastic bottle as a fish trap for small fish. Or you can build a large fish trap to catch big fish. You can find or even make a fishing rod yourself:

  • Improvised Fish Trap: 1x Plastic Bottle + Knife = Fish Trap.
  • Fish Trap: 1x Metal Wire + 1x Fishing Net = Fish Trap.
  • Improvised Fishing Rod: 1x Long Stick + 1x Rope + 1x Hook = Fishing Rod.

You can set up both fish traps in both fresh and saltwater and then bait them with a worm. You can dig worms out of the ground. With bait, you increase the catch rate of fish in DayZ. The same applies to the fishing rod with a hook. You attach a worm to the hook, thereby increasing the catch rate again.

Fish trap in the water
Here you see a fish trap in action.

Fish you can catch: With the small fish trap, you can only catch small fish like sardines. With the large fish weir, you can catch mackerel or carp. The actual fish you catch also depends on whether you fish in fresh or saltwater.

  • Freshwater Fish: Carp (Large), Bitterling (Small)
  • Saltwater Fish: Mackerel (Large), Sardine (Small)

Pro Tip from the Author: While carp and mackerel offer more meat and therefore more calories, they must be gutted and cooked. The two small fish species that you can catch in DayZ are edible and fresh out of the water. So, you save valuable time and remain more inconspicuous.

DayZ Carp in inventory
Fresh catch in DayZ

2. Hunting Farm & Wild Animals

In the lands of Chernarus and Livonia, there are different hunting methods. Small animals like rabbits can only be caught with a trap. Large animals such as cows, deer, wild boars, etc., must be actively hunted.

  • Small Animal Trap Building: 1x Stick + 1x Wire = Trap (Use fruit as bait)

All Hunting Areas for Farm and Wild Animals in DayZ

spawn locations of animals in dayz
Spawn Locations von Tieren in Dayz.

Where do you encounter predators? Be careful up north and in the west of the Chernarus map. Around the Devil's Castle, you might encounter bears. In Livonia, be cautious in the southern forests for wolves and bears. Wolves and bears are cold-blooded killers but can also be hunted for meat, fat, and fur. Find hunting tactics and survival strategies in our Predator Guide about bears.

Preserving Food & Cooking - Here's How

Now you know how to find, grow, and hunt food in DayZ. The next part is about preparing it. Fish, meat, vegetables, and mushrooms can be cooked & prepared in various ways in the game. Sure, most food in DayZ doesn't need to be cooked. Vegetables, rice, snacks, or canned goods can be consumed as is. However, carp, mackerel, and meat must be heated. Not only does cooking increase the caloric value of the food -- making it more satisfying -- it also makes food last longer.
Meat and fish spoil in DayZ after:

Inventory1.66 hrs20 hrs28 hrs56 hrs
Storage7 hrs3 days4 days8 days

Fruits, Vegetables & Mushrooms spoil in the game after:

Inventory5 hrs14 hrs20 hrsInfinite
Storage14 hrs2 days3 daysInfinite

Summary of Finding Food / Growing Food in DayZ

How do you survive? Have you found other reliable ways to obtain food? Our methods are summarized here:

  • Check your inventory for food.
  • Search your nearby spawn environment for boats along the coast.
  • Quickly move inland, where there is more loot!
  • It's possible to live solely off nature. Hunt, gather, process.
  • You can grow your food and thus live indefinitely.

Who wrote this article?

Author and founder Kevin Willing, with over 2,000 hours in the DayZ Standalone, has gathered a lot of experience and created this guide with the help of the Guided editorial team. He has also been actively reporting on DayZ since 2016, as confirmed by his author profile. If you have questions or comments about the topic, write a comment or personally contact the author via Community-Discord.

The interest in digging deep into the gaming industry stems from the DayZ Mod for Arma 2 in 2012. Kevin started working in the gaming industry in 2016. First as a trainee at Survivethis, the biggest German Survival-Games-Site at that time. Only half a year later, he got accepted at Gamestar and later MeinMMO. Now, on he implements all his Knowledge to deliver comprehensive news, guides, interviews and more unique topics.
Notify of
Please read our Privacy Policy

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thank you for the explanation, most people just write
"Go play COD if you dont like it."
You just need to look at food in game differently. Thank you, well done.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram