Taking babies from their mothers only to use and abuse for entertainment and then callously send to slaughter after you’ve finished with them? Sounds like something sick, barbaric and bizarre. Maybe a nightmarish folk tradition from ancient times.
The event known as ‘calf roping’ or ‘rope and tie’ is widely considered to be one of the cruelest components of a rodeo. A young calf (a mere three months old) is released from a chute with the goal being for a rider on horseback to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope around their neck, then dismounting and wrestling the calf to the ground and tying three of their legs together, in as short a time as possible. Calves can reach top speeds of up to 35 kilometres per hour and when stopped in mid-flight by the rope they are jerked off their feet and slammed to the ground.
Now as the rodeo season draws to a close, I’m left to ponder how anyone can justify this cruelty any longer.
Along with the obvious stress and absolute terror to a baby animal, broken legs and internal injuries can sometimes be suffered in this ‘entertaining’ event. These animals, often ‘waste product’ bobby calves from the dairy industry, have no value, so their being terrified and hurt matters little to rodeo operators.
Calf roping is banned in a number of states in the United States, Australia, Brazil and Canada and banned nationally in the United Kingdom, Germany and The Netherlands.
So terrible is calf roping that in the recently released Rodeo Code of Welfare (a misnomer if ever there was one), even NAWAC (the ineffective ‘National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee) hinted that calf roping won’t be allowed to continue for much longer. They said, “NAWAC does continue to have reservations about the performance of rodeos, and in particular, the events using younger animals. The committee is aware that rodeo events using calves have been banned in a number of countries due to the perceived physical and psychological stresses that they place on the animals.” They went on to say that recommended best practice is that “calves should not be used in rodeo events.”
Last year sheep riding, a children’s event in New Zealand rodeo, was banned because rodeo compromises the welfare of these nervous animals. Calf roping must follow.
This season two bulls lost their lives in rodeo events – so that grown men could have a bit of fun. One reportedly injured his back. Imagine the agony. When you step back and think about it, it is absolutely ridiculous that rodeo is not already banned.
Well, no more. Until rodeo is gone for good in New Zealand, at a bare minimum calves should be spared the cruelty of calf roping events. This year SAFE will begin pressuring the government for a total ban on one of the worst rodeo events: the truly sickening cruelty of calf roping. And with your help and support, I know we will succeed in preventing this abuse of baby animals. Watch this space for how you can get involved.
Mandy Carter, Head of Campaigns