Shane Kenny competes at the Destiny Downs Good Friday Fiesta. Photo Contributed
Shane Kenny competes at the Destiny Downs Good Friday Fiesta. Photo Contributed Purple Fairy Imagery - Cherie Ry

Calls made to ban rope and tie events

ROPE and tie director for the Australian Professional Rodeo Association Shane Kenny says farmers and rodeo competitors have no intention to hurt their animals as they are a part of everyday life.

So he can not understand the push for a ban on roping.

The call for a ban on calf roping in Queensland comes from Animal Liberation Qld and the RSPCA after a University of Queensland report into the effects of calf roping was released.

The report, which was conducted on Shane's property, found the sport caused "acute stress response" in both experienced and naive calves.

Professor Clive Phillips, from UQ's Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Sciences, led the study, which found increased concentrations of stress hormones in calves' blood after the roping.

Animal Liberation Qld vice-president Gayle D'Arcy said the science was in and it confirmed "what seemed obvious to most observers for a long time", that the event caused distress to the "baby animals involved".

"This stress and fear is hardly surprising, given that they are roped around their necks and jerked to a sudden halt when running away at high speed," she said.

RSPCA CEO Mark Townend agreed with Animal Liberation groups, saying the calves were "quite literally yanked off their feet and could suffer permanent injury".

"The calf roping event is not popular with the general public anyway. Virtually the only people who like it are fellow calf ropers," he said.

Shane Kenny said people might call people like him "hill billy hicks" but he would like to see them with $60,000 worth of livestock and physically want to abuse them.

"You don't go buy a brand new motorcar and kick the doors in do you?," Shane said. "We still have to pay our bills and everything costs money to keep going you know. We've got to pump water to them, feed them and we need to get the vet out. That costs money so there's no reason for us to neglect the welfare of our animals.

"Obviously there are some images they do have on social media that we don't totally agree with that aren't in the best light of the rodeo industry. These people are dealt with.

"We actually have some of them that get removed from being accredited people that are allowed to bring stock to rodeo events because they're not doing the right thing and handling the stock in the right manner and so forth.

"So there is standards and animal welfare regulations they have to abide by and if they're not doing the right thing, they're fined or removed accordingly.

"It's the same as the rodeo contestants, the cowboys. If they abuse a horse or a cow or whatever, that's what the judges are there for. They hand out stringent fines."

Australian Professional Rodeo Association and Australian Rodeo Federation animal welfare director Steve Bradshaw rejected the calls made by Queensland animal liberation organisations for the rodeo event of rope and tie (calf roping) to be banned state wide.

Mr Bradshaw said the validated trial of roping calves by experienced rodeo competitors was conducted by Queensland University in conjunction with Queensland RSPCA and facilitated by the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA).

"This trial conducted near Emerald in Queensland was conducted using two groups of calves," Mr Bradshaw explained.

"The first group was a group conditioned to the rodeo environment and had been used in the rope and tie event. The second group had not been so used and were a random sample group of calves.

"The test results clearly indicated, subjected to being roped and tied, that the stress levels of the roped calves increased. However it also revealed that when subjected, not to being roped, but to being mustered into yards and moved in those yards similar to calves in a normal cattle operation being moved for animal husbandry practices, the other sample group also had their stress levels increased."

The report also stated the trial should not be viewed alone and should have been subjected to peer review and further trials.

"It is therefore clear that, subject to further trials, calves used in rodeo for the rope and tie event suffer no more stress than unroped calves used in normal cattle operational practice," Mr Bradshaw said.

"The rope and tie event is an exhibition of the skill of competitors using suitably conditioned stock. These skills are used in various animal husbandry practices in Australia, North America and many South American countries."

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