22 December 2021

With rodeos set to be held across Western Australia this summer, the RSPCA is reminding the community about one of the most cruel and frightening rodeo events; calf roping.

Calf roping, which is common at many rodeos across Australia and legal in WA,1 involves a calf as young as four months being chased by a rider, lassoed, jerked off their feet and often crashing to the ground.

RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer Dr Di Evans said while there are many serious animal welfare concerns with rodeos, calf roping is the most troubling and cruel practice that is still common across the country.

The animal welfare risks with calf roping are simply unacceptable,” said Dr Evans. “That’s why the RSPCA encourages all Australians to think twice before attending rodeos, especially where calf roping takes place.”

“Calf roping can inherently cause severe injury: choking and damage and bruising to the spine, throat and surrounding tissues.

“It is highly frightening and stressful for the calves involved. There is no justification to inflict that sort of fear and stress on any animal, particularly those who are very young.

“And it’s important to remember that calf roping causes unacceptable fear and pain even when it’s done to meet competition rules. But on top of that, mistakes—where the rope can contact the eyes, nose and other sensitive areas—are common and also cause pain and stress.”

Dr Evans said that more and more Australians were becoming concerned about the welfare of animals in rodeos,** and that there was a lot that the community could do to help end calf roping.

“We ask all Australians to reconsider attending rodeos, especially if calf roping takes place, and to ask their friends and family to do the same.

“State and territory governments also have the power to legislate a ban on calf roping—in Victoria and South Australia, it is effectively banned—so we urge other governments to follow suit.

“We also ask the business community to reconsider sponsoring rodeos, especially where calf roping takes place. The community can help by encouraging local businesses to not support these events.”

  1. Calf roping is legal in Queensland, NSW, NT, Tasmania and WA. It is effectively banned in South Australia and Victoria because of a minimum body weight of 200kg for cattle. Rodeo events are prohibited under animal welfare legislation in the ACT.
  2. 63% of Australians said they were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the welfare of animals in rodeos in 2018, compared to 52% in 2015.