Chickens, cows and pigs have been the only meat-giving animals in Minecraft for a long time now, and, in one of the most welcome changes included in the game's latest big patch, they are now joined by sheep.

On October 25, 2009, sheep were added as passive, wool-giving mobs to the then-heavily-in-pre-alpha Minecraft. Shortly after, pigs appeared in the game, and later on, in the game's alpha, they were joined by two other passive mobs, cows and chickens—eventually, all three got their own meat drops. The sheep, however, remained meatless.

So, with the now-official 1.8 "Bountiful Update," hunger management is that much easier thanks both to the addition of mutton, and the introduction of rabbits, which also drop meat (and probably make you feel more guilty when you cut them down).

Of course, new meat types is far from the only thing added in the Bountiful Update which, clocking in at ten+ months, is the longest-developed update the game has seen so far. There are several new block types, two new enemy mobs: the underwater Guardian and the teleporting Endermite, a new dungeon called the Ocean Monument, and a lot of additional features for the game's scripting engine, which lets mapmakers do much more with an unmodded Minecraft—like last week's Simburbia, for example.

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Courtesy of Mojang, here's a list of major changes in 1.8:

  • Added Granite, Andesite, and Diorite stone blocks, with smooth versions
  • Added Slime Block
  • Added Iron Trapdoor
  • Added Prismarine and Sea Lantern blocks
  • Added the Ocean Monument
  • Added Red Sandstone
  • Added Banners
  • Added Armor Stands
  • Added Coarse Dirt (dirt where grass won't grow)
  • Added Guardian mobs, with item drops
  • Added Endermite mob
  • Added Rabbits, with item drops
  • Added Mutton and Cooked Mutton
  • Villagers will harvest crops and plant new ones
  • Mossy Cobblestone and Mossy Stone Bricks are now craftable
  • Chiseled Stone Bricks are now craftable
  • Doors and fences now come in all wood type variants
  • Sponge block has regained its water-absorbing ability and becomes wet
  • Added a spectator game mode (game mode 3)
  • Added one new achievement
  • Added "Customized" world type
  • Added hidden "Debug Mode" world type
  • Worlds can now have a world barrier
  • Added @e target selector for Command Blocks
  • Added /blockdata command
  • Added /clone command
  • Added /execute command
  • Added /fill command
  • Added /particle command
  • Added /testforblocks command
  • Added /title command
  • Added /trigger command
  • Added /worldborder command
  • Added /stats command
  • Containers can be locked in custom maps by using the "Lock" data tag
  • Added logAdminCommands, showDeathMessages, reducedDebugInfo, sendCommandFeedback, and randomTickSpeed game rules
  • Added three new statistics
  • Player skins can now have double layers across the whole model, and left/right arms/legs can be edited independently
  • Added a new player model with smaller arms, and a new player skin called Alex?
  • Added options for configuring what pieces of the skin that are visible
  • Blocks can now have custom visual variations in the resource packs
  • Minecraft Realms now has an activity chart, so you can see who has been online
  • Minecraft Realms now lets you upload your maps
  • Difficulty setting is saved per world, and can be locked if wanted
  • Enchanting has been redone, now costs lapis lazuli in addition to enchantment levels
  • Villager trading has been rebalanced
  • Anvil repairing has been rebalanced
  • Considerable faster client-side performance
  • Max render distance has been increased to 32 chunks (512 blocks)
  • Adventure mode now prevents you from destroying blocks, unless your items have the CanDestroy data tag
  • Resource packs can now also define the shape of blocks and items, and not just their textures
  • Scoreboards have been given a lot of new features
  • Tweaked the F3 debug screen
  • Block ID numbers (such as 1 for stone), are being replaced by ID names (such as minecraft:stone)
  • Server list has been improved
  • A few minor changes to village and temple generation
  • Mob heads for players now show both skin layers
  • Buttons can now be placed on the ceiling
  • Lots and lots of other changes
  • LOTS AND LOTS of other changes
  • Removed Herobrine

And, if you want to know more, the Minecraft Wiki has a long and detailed list of every change made by the 1.8 patch, including the various bugfixes, of which there's almost four hundred.

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This is one of Minecraft's biggest updates yet, so if you haven't looked at the game in a while, now might be a good time.

Minecraft 1.8 – The Bountiful Update [Mojang]

Questions? Comments? Contact the author of this post at andras-AT-kotaku-DOT-com.