We know that calf roping in rodeos is a serious animal welfare issue and one that deeply concerns many Australians. Now, new polling has confirmed that – and it’s just further evidence that this cruel ‘sport’ needs to end.
It’s a common event at rodeos across Australia. From the start, calves are subjected to a highly stressful environment, fleeing in fear as soon as they’re released from the chute and then they bellow loudly when they are caught, and try to escape after being slammed down and having their feet tied together. Once they are finally untied, they waste no time getting out of the arena.
No animal should be made to suffer in this way for the sake of entertainment – and Australians know that. They know that calves are sentient creatures who experience pain and fear. Read on to find more about what the latest research shows – and what it means for the future of this terrifying and cruel event.
Australians have spoken
While rodeos have been a part of some Australian communities for a long time, an increasing number of Australians are concerned about the deep and inherent animal welfare issues with these events. Previous independently-conducted research has also shown strong and persistent community animal welfare concerns with rodeos – for example, surveys conducted by McCrindle have shown concern about animals used in rodeos increasing from 52% in 2015, to 63% in 2018, to 67% in 2022.
And now, we have further evidence of what Australians think about calf roping which poses the most serious animal welfare risks with rodeos.
The most recent polling – which was commissioned by the RSPCA and conducted independently among a representative sample of 1500 Australians in February – found that the majority of Australians (61%), are concerned about the animal welfare impacts of calf roping.
This includes high numbers of Australians living in rural or country areas where these rodeos are held – such as 58% in rural Queensland and 62% in WA outside of Perth.
The polling results found that more than 3 in 5 Australians support their state or territory placing a ban on calf roping.
So it’s extremely disappointing that, despite the animal welfare issues involved in calf roping and despite majority public support to end this cruel practice, calf roping is still common across the country.
Currently, calf roping is legal in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania. It’s effectively banned in South Australia and Victoria (because of a minimum body weight of 200kg for cattle) and all rodeo events are prohibited under animal welfare legislation in the Australian Capital Territory.
The polling highlights just how important it is for all states and territories that still allow calf roping to put a stop this cruel and distressing event.
Not good business sense
And the recent polling highlights that it’s a good move for businesses to step away from supporting rodeos – almost half of Australians would be less likely to support a business that sponsors a rodeo where calf roping takes place (and for another 2 in 5, it wouldn’t make a difference – showing there’s very little benefit and a lot of risk).
The RSPCA encourages businesses to take a stand and help us see an end to this cruel and terrifying practice – our message is that there are other ways to support rural communities without supporting animal cruelty.
Overall, it’s a clear message. Australians are not only concerned about the animal welfare impacts of calf roping, but that they want to see an end to it altogether. Add to this recent research that confirms it’s a terrifying and distressing event for the calves involved, and it’s a clear and compelling argument for change.