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Calf roping in rodeos

Animals used in rodeo events experience fear, pain and stress.

Calf roping is arguably the most serious animal welfare concern in rodeos across Australia today, with recent studies showing the event is cruel and terrifying for calves from start to finish.

Separated from other calves, subjected to loud noises and rough handling, the young calf is chased by riders on horseback until they are lassoed and caught. The abrupt stop jerks the calf off their feet, then being forced to the ground, and choking whilst being dragged along the ground by the rope around their neck.

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The issues

Calf roping is a frightening, distressing experience for the calf, and risks serious injury, including damage to the windpipe from the lasso, bruising and broken ribs from being violently yanked off their feet and then being forced to the ground, and choking from the tightened rope around their neck then dragged along the ground.

This causes unnecessary and unjustifiable suffering to the animals involved, with fear, injury and pain essentially guaranteed. And they are forced to endure this treatment repeatedly. This is why it’s effectively banned in Victoria and South Australia, but other states and territories allow it to continue, except the ACT where all rodeo events are banned.

The other issues with rodeos

The majority of rodeo events compromise the welfare of the animals involved, all for the sake of entertainment. Events such as bull riding, bronco riding (bucking horse), and steer wrestling all cause distress and risk injury to the animals involved.

Rodeo horses and bulls, for example, will buck repeatedly as an instinctive reaction to being ridden, painfully kicked with spurs and in response to the tightened flank strap around their sensitive underbelly.

Cattle and horses are prey animals who experience fear and stress if they are under threat by being chased or ridden.

Intentionally causing fear and distress to an animal should never occur for the sake of entertainment.

What needs to change

The RSPCA is calling for a national ban on calf roping. We want to see every state and territory place a prohibit this cruel and terrifying practice. We also want to see businesses take a stand on this serious welfare issue and commit to not sponsoring or promoting rodeos.

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