A study funded by the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) on the effects of calf roping was published in April this year by the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics of the University of Queensland. The results found that calf roping stresses calves, as did marshalling calves for the first time across a rodeo style arena .
The study was published in the peer reviewed journal ‘Animals’ and edited by Professor of Animal Welfare Marina von Keyserlingk of the University of British Columbia, one of the world’s leading experts on cattle welfare.
The study investigated stress responses in two separate groups:
- a group of calves that had not been exposed to roping before and were taken through a handling system, released into an arena and marshalled by a mounted rider across the arena (without roping),
- and a group of calves that had been used in rodeos before and were chased and roped in a simulated rodeo.
Both groups showed significant stress responses from physiological measures and the roped calves showed behavioural responses, fleeing from the rider and an eyeroll following the event, which further suggested significant stress. In the group where the calf was handled and marshalled by a mounted rider for the first time it would be expected to bring a heightened response.
Since the calves in the two groups were of different origin and different time frames were used to collect blood samples the responses of the two groups of calves were not comparable. The study involving researchers from the UQ Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics and UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, and Toulouse University, concluded that calf roping causes stress to the animals.