A new study from the University of Sydney and the RSPCA confirms calf roping is both physically damaging and unnecessarily cruel. 

The report, published in Animals, an international peer-reviewed journal, found that rodeo calves suffer physical injuries, unnecessary distress, and alarm during calf roping events. 

Dr Di Evans, Senior Scientific Officer at RSPCA Australia and co-author of the study, said there’s no way to justify this practice in 21st century Australia.

“We know that calf roping causes unnecessary and unjustifiable suffering to the animals involved. This includes injury risks such as damage to the windpipe from the lasso, bruising and broken ribs from being violently yanked off their feet and being forced to the ground.

“But it’s also clear that on top of the physical injuries, calf roping is distressing and frightening for the calves. They are confronted with strange sights, loud noises, and are separated from other calves and literally run for their life as they’re chased by a rider on a horse.

“This is just further proof that calf roping cannot be justified in 21st century Australia, and that subjecting animals to such cruelty is completely out of step with community expectations – it’s no wonder that the majority of Australians are concerned about the welfare of animals in rodeos,” said Dr Evans.

Based on an extensive review of video footage, Dr Evans said that calves commonly showed what animal welfare science defines as clear and well-recognisable signs of distress throughout the calf roping process.

“The RSPCA calls on all state and territory governments to put a stop to this cruel event, as has already been done in some jurisdictions. Businesses can also take a stand by refusing to support rodeos, especially rodeos where calf roping takes place,” said Dr Evans.

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