Milton Sanders

MiltonSanders Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

Hello TGN family, my name is Milton. I am a pastor, electrical engineer, husband of my high school sweetheart, and dad of three beautiful girls. My wife of, soon to be 34 years, are from South Carolina and we have 6 acres with a spring feed pond. We are tired of rat race and just want to break as free as possible from Walmart and similar stores because of all the chemicals placed into things. I have been reading and watching many of the provided videos from the things we have purchased in the last week or so from TGN. Marjory, not sure I will ever be able to walk around without shoes especially some of the places I’ve seen you walk!

 Little about me, I’ve built houses, poured concrete, wired houses, and plumbing work. I recently retired as a Controls and Automation Engineer after 24 years of doing something that I absolutely loved but it became a "job".  In short, I feel I am a jack of all, master of "absolutely nothing" :}.  

Today, we need your help, please. We have a ½ acre spring feed pond that is full of bass and crappy (meat supply).  I am wanting to start a rabbit colony (not sure where to buy a few female rabbits), nor am I sure how to build the pen such that they are protected from owls. Think it is supposed to be 1200 to 1500 sq ft. but what is best used material for protections from dogs, fox, owls, and other animals. Our yard has been cut using a mower with minimal trees and bushes on it. We have large oak trees around the perimeter and few scatter throughout, but for the most part, the property is open. 

I am also trying to locate the Leucaena tree and other items for making our rabbits self-sustainable without having to go to the store to buy food for them weekly like our dogs. We thought of chickens, but our friends are always talking about the money they spend for them versus the eggs/meat received. I would like to build something one time gleaming from your experiences and pitfalls. 


a.      Rabbits - Enough meat for two and perhaps a few others that would allow me share food and spiritual food as time progresses :}. Planning to build a rabbit trap/box tomorrow out of boards to try and catch a male - we hope. I remember seeing the domesticated rabbits tend to dig. 

b.      Type of wire or fence to use, how to bury it such that other animals cannot dig under it.

c.       Electric fence (yes/no)

d.      Plants and places for the rabbits to stay both warm and cool. A place to feel secure and stay out of the elements.

e.      Would you suggest building a rabbit and chicken cope together? Can they eat the same food? Guess I should have put a disclaimer in here about our living in the country but not on a farm or having a farming line of thinking. We are a work in progress :}. With that said, all of this, we are learning as we go.

 On Hand:

f.      I have few hundred gallons of water and emergency water that is already in place thanks to metal roofing and Almighty God. I just purchased a few of the floats that I have seen in the videos. I have the piping to make all this work. Just waiting on placement advice. Then the water part will be complete.

g.      I have access to tractors and other equipment to expedite this.

Our objective:

Is to carry this as far as we can, as quickly as we can, with as little as possible. I know nothing is for free and everything is extremely costly. Any positive advice is welcomed. 


In Him,


Best Answers

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin
    Answer ✓

    Welcome to TGN @MiltonSanders. You have come to the right place for info and advice on becoming more self sufficient and off the "big box" train. You have a good start with a meat supply in your pond.

    I have no experience with rabbits but there are many others here who do. Perhaps start another thread specific to your questions with "rabbit" in the discussion title.

    I would highly recommend the "Raising Backyard Meat Rabbits" course in the Academy. All of the courses are well done and very informative.

    You have mentioned chickens not being very cost effective. They might not be cheaper than store bought but they are most certainly healthier if you can control what they are being fed. Check out the Academy courses on chickens for egg production and the other animal husbandry courses, too.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin
    Answer ✓

    @MiltonSanders welcome to TGN. As @torey mentioned, the TGN courses are key to learning, as well as participation in the forums. Have a look about the academy courses and I’m sure some of our members can give advice on rabbit production on the forum. Glad you have found this group of like minded people to help you on your self sufficient journey. While you’re at it have a look at the forum rules etc. Once again, a big warm welcome. Sounds like you’ll be handy at building a rabbit run!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin
    Answer ✓

    Welcome @MiltonSanders! It is exciting to have another member here, eager to pursue self-sufficiency. Remember not to go too fast, read lots, consider information and check it against other trusted sources (the been there done that for years), and be aware that one person can't do it all. This is where careful networking can be your friend. :) Most of all, don't stress...enjoy your learning journey.

    Starting some discussions about your rabbit questions could be done in a more specific category here:

    Putting questions, etc. in these more specific categories helps with organizing our questions & information so that others can easily search for the same information later. Be sure to put appropriate tags in the tags box to help with later searches. FYI, there is no need to use hashtags with your chosen words. :)

    I am passionate about raising & breeding heritage breeds, of any type of livestock, for their preservation & betterment. As far as chickens go, I currently breed french black copper marans, jersey giant, & erminette. My giants are now where I like what I see, the marans & erms are a work in progress. I have a couple variations of each. I have other birds (silkies, chocolate ameraucana, guinea, peafowl, quail) too that are just for fun. I wanted heritage turkeys, but I'm not sure that I have the space at the moment. We no longer have ducks.

    Feed has become expensive for all livestock, large & small, right now. We are looking into the possibility of mixing our own for the birds. Of course, to make it worthwhile, we would go through our neighbors (local farmers) to find what we need at the best price.

    You mentioned that you are new to the farm scene, not thinking like a farmer. Beware that many farmers will take advantage of those who give vibes (that's the best word I can think of at the moment) of being urban or naive about livestock & feed. Its pretty easy for those who have grown up in the country to spot these folks. Something always tattles. Generally (and unfortunately) these people often end up paying more because they want "the best" and so are taken advantage of...its just business. Case in owners & new acreage owners. But, not everyone is that way, just be aware.

    I am pretty biased in my opinion that if you raise chickens, heritage breeds from breeders (not hatcheries) are the way to go for many reasons. If you get into breeding chickens (a commitment that's more than just helter-shelter backyard breeding), & if you've got high quality birds, and if you have in demand varieties, you can sell birds, chicks & hatching eggs for a higher price which helps pay for feed & housing. This way, it can not only feed you by providing meat & eggs, but can bring in sales through those other avenues. A cheaper hybrid or not well bred bird will never match what you can get from/through a good heritage bird.

    For food purposes, being willing to caponize helps immensely too. We are looking into trying that this coming year.

    If you would need tips on how to find a respected breeder, let me know. Chicken keeping can pay for itself if done wisely.

    So, if you ever have chicken questions, I have posted a lot under "Birds" and will do my best to answer whatever else comes my way.

    Ah...I got carried away (sorry about that) onto what you are here for...

    Had you taken Marjory's rabbit course? Torey mentioned it above. I hear it's good. Of course, there are a good number who raise rabbits here. I'm sure you will get good advice!

    I personally would not keep rabbits and chickens in the same pen...but then again, I've never raised rabbits. I do think that it could lead to issues, though. Rabbits also pass poop pellets & herb pellets (the latter to eat later). That is something to keep in mind. I know that I have seen this question asked before somewhere, but I'm not sure if it was on TGN or a poultry forum. If it's here, it's likely under Rabbits or Birds.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,411 admin
    Answer ✓

    @MiltonSanders hello and welcome from me as well. You seem to have very concrete ideas what you want to develop and have. That is a very good start. @LaurieLovesLearning has already given you lots of valuable advice. I am sure that we have members very competent in rabbit farming. I myself am more interested in for gardening, bee keeping and herbs - my biggest passion, but I plan to start with chicken this spring. I will follow this discussion as I might learn a lot from other members of the network.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,415 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    @MiltonSanders welcome! Great to have you here! I'm on the journey to being as self sufficient as possible as quickly as possible also. As previously stated by some of our friends you are definitely in the right place.

    I don't know who all here knows about rabbits but I can tell you that my husband and I have had rabbits off and on for the last decade or two. I know that @monica197 also has rabbits. I agree that it would be a good idea to start a separate discussion thread to address your rabbit questions separately. I would be happy to share whatever I can about my rabbit knowledge. I did take the meat rabbits course in the academy. It is a great resource for beginners. If I remember correctly there is a list of possible breeders to purchase from. I can find links to a few of the rabbit blogs that I follow if you would like.

    I'm new to chickens (building my coop now) so I can't offer a lot of advice there but I do know that their nutritional needs can differ from rabbits.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin
    Answer ✓

    @MiltonSanders I was thinking about my comment about a newbie to country life person not getting caught up in having "the best." That's one aspect of a city mindset, and one of people that have too much money.

    I see this a lot in the modern "homesteader" movement. These folks are not true farmers (but they still proclaim that they are farmers...they have a place in the country & a few animals/garden), but instead, they are people attracted to the romantic notion of farming.

    Until you've had next to nothing & have had a few hard struggles (and 5+types of manure on your boots), you are still that modern homesteader & not a true farmer. What I say probably sounds harsh, but it gives you a bit of insight into the farmers' thought process.

    Well done & adequate is more what is best to aim for. Don't overpay for anything if you can help it. Traditional farmers were very resourceful and creative. Keep this in mind.

    I was talking to my husband, and he says that a good tip would be that for any feed for livestock of any size, to look up current feed market prices in your state/country. It should be the same across the country. Knowing your prices will save you a lot of money. These change sometimes daily, so keep up on it. There are differences in prices as well, say, feed grains & number 1. Feed grains are the lowest quality, often not as good quality of grain or unable to be well cleaned of other similar sized grains. That doesn't mean it is necessarily bad for your animals. It's "feed grain" after all, just not suitable for planting & food processing. Sometimes getting a sizable amount can save you money (you'd need adequate storage), and sometimes small amounts are quite affordable (that depends on the generosity of your farmer).

    This reminds me of when I'd be at my grandparents. I remember waking up to my grandpa, who was up super early, eating his oatmeal at the old table, listening to the (boring, morning news & market prices of grain & cattle every morning before he went out to do chores. Its now a nice, comfy cozy memory that I really cherish.


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin
  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,088 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2022

    @MiltonSanders Welcome! I don't think you could find a better place to start getting answers! As already mentioned the TGN Academy is the best!

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭


  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    Welcome to TGN @MiltonSanders!

  • MiltonSanders
    MiltonSanders Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    Thanks to each of you for responding. My wife and I just completed the "Raising-Backyard-Meat-Rabbits-Lessons". Wealth of information and guide to raising meat rabbits.


    a. We have built our first breeder pens that are suspended with the intention of starting a worm farm benight for fishing in our pond.

    b. Completed the automatic watering system with built-in redundancy.

    c. We have also acquired a buck and one doe. They are little over a year old.

    d. Working on rabbit tractor/exercise enclosures this weekend such that they can be allowed to play and enjoy life.

    e. Lastly, still working on handling the rabbits. The buck does not care; however, the doe is another story. My wife laughed at me when I was transferring them from the transport pens to their new homes because I put on these leather sleeve things I have for welding. I have watched many members here in how they move their rabbits and what they are capable of doing to an arm. Guess these fur babies know this is my first rabbit rodeo. Might have to watch Dash and the butchering process front of this doe such that there is a better understanding of what can happen if she continues this behavior.

    Thanks to all of TGN members and sharing a wealth of knowledge.



  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,415 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MiltonSanders good to hear! Best of luck on continued rabbit success!