Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Swortzel, Kirk A.

Committee Member

Newman, Michael E.

Committee Member

Denny, Marina D.

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Every country in the world is affected by one or more forms of malnutrition. Malnutrition includes three conditions: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies or excesses, or overnutrition. Obesity is a greater contributor to death than undernutrition. Age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and education level affect obesity. The rates of obesity vary considerably between states and regions of the country. The state of Mississippi is ranked as the poorest state in the nation and Mississippi has the highest adult obesity rate at 40.8% (Farberman & Kelley, 2020).

Rabbit meat production and consumption is a possible solution to malnutrition worldwide (Petrescu & Petrescu-Mag, 2018). Relatively easy to raise with overall economical maintenance, raising rabbits for food has many benefits. However, its consumption falls behind other protein sources like beef, pork, chicken, and turkey (Petrescu & Petrescu-Mag, 2018). Understanding backyard grower-consumers’ perceptions of rabbit meat consumption could improve support and adoption of backyard rabbit programs.

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand the perceptions of meat rabbit growers in Mississippi backyards and relative to rabbit rearing and consumption, were growers’ practices affected by external variables outside of their control. A qualitative study was useful in both an exploratory context as well as in an explanatory context to understand not how much or how many people consume rabbit meat, but instead the how and why of raising meat rabbits in your backyard. The results of this study provide a description of underlying reasons, opinions, motivations, and potential barriers in addition to insights into the reasons some Mississippians raise meat rabbits in their backyard for consumption. Reasons for raising meat rabbits included the desire to be more self-sufficient or to at least provide some sources of food security. Participants found rabbits an attractive protein source because they are easy to raise and relatively disease free needing no vaccines or antibiotics. Weather seemed to pose the greatest barrier or challenge to growers especially the summer heat experienced in the state of Mississippi. This information can prove helpful when developing programs and recruiting those individuals to participate because of their likelihood in adopting this lifestyle.