04 December, 2013


National Rodeo Code meeting
RSPCA Queensland, Wacol, Qld.
14 November 2013

National Code Writing Team:

Greg McDougal Qld DAFF, Glen Mansfield, APRA, Steve Coleman RSPCA NSW

Representatives from Rodeo Industry (Rodeo Federation, APRA, ABCRA, judges, stock contractors), Australian Veterinary Association/Australian Cattle Veterinarians, Animal Liberation Qld, , Government Primary Industries – NSW, Victoria, RSPCA Qld; RSPCA Australia RSPCA Victoria , Animal welfare League Qld, Animals Australia, Animal Ethics)


Reason for development of a national code for rodeos: Current inconsistency in rules across jurisdictions
Require official sanction of national standards. - support for common rules to be used at all rodeos with emphasis on animal welfare.
Current industry support for standards
Disbanding of AusAWAC has halted funding for the current project.
What form will the final document take? Guidelines, or industry only or a document that can be taken up by governments as standards and guidelines
Issues identified by the meeting (on white board):

Contentious Issues
Veterinary presence
Enforceable standards
Governing body for rodeos
What is fair for the animals
Reflect Victorian rules
Future direction
Self regulation

Contentious Issues

Calf toping
Electric prods
Age of competitors
Prohibited events
Other issues
Scope of guidelines/standards
Rodeos and rodeo schools
Industry standards and self regulation.

Issue: Education
Within rodeo organisations, all roles identified with rodeos receive education on standards and guidelines and current legislation.
Judges and stock contractors are accredited.
ABCRA have developed an accreditation process based on competencies (AQF) for animal welfare officers. Use of an independent registered training organisation which has a background in training livestock handling.
Training includes focus on free freedoms of animal welfare, work health and safety requirements for stock handling, identification and handling of sick and injured livestock. emergency animal diseases, humane handling (based on live export guidelines for low stress handling techniques), humane euthanasia, providing facilities for events that are auditable for public liability and insurance proposes.
Will be a nationally recognised qualification and will involve both classroom and practical training over 2 days with measurable outcomes.
Training suitable for stock contractors, judges, other officers and officials.
Intention to start training course in NSW.
Renewal/refresher course every two years for judges – legislative changes would need updating.
Aim of course to change both practice and behaviour, Accountability for animal welfare placed back to the rodeo organisations.

Rodeo animals are purpose bred and trained.
Stock contractors with only a few animals should be accredited – can be an issue if not accredited and problems arise with regards to welfare. Some renegades can affect the public perception of the entire industry

Action: Education
Formation of working group to determine how the education will be achieved

Issue: Mandatory presence of veterinarian
Mandatory veterinary presence currently in South Australia, Victorian and Tasmania Codes.
Approximately 20% of rodeos cannot get a veterinarian because of no availability.
Would require a veterinarian will suitable skills.
Australian Veterinary Association would promote vet attendance- par t of its current policy but the policy must be enforced for this to occur.
Practical issues affecting the availability of vets – horse and dog racing currently require veterinarians at all meetings. This places a large workload on veterinary practices, especially in outlying areas with only one large animal/mixed practice. Not enough vets to go around. Impact of cost on volunteer organisations.
If funding for travel and for presence at a rodeo was available, then one vet would be present and one vet on call.
Issue with number of race meetings and number of rodeo events each week (450 rodeo events around Australia – about 9 events per week on average).
Would need to get a pool of vet locums to do the work and the vets would need to have knowledge of rodeos.
Suggestion that workshops on rodeos would be required for the pool of vets. This could include attendance at a rodeo school.
APRA – vet the most appropriate person. Veterinarian must be on call at all times while rodeo is conducted. Need a competent animal welfare person on site.
Action:: : Mandatory presence of veterinarian
Working group to develop framework for creating a pool of veterinarians available for rodeos:
Scott Parry (AVA); Diane Ryan(DPI NSW), Jade Norris (RSPCA Australia)

Rodeo Schools
Schools – educate new people in to the sport – gear and animal welfare.
Training for the student not the livestock. Best practice at rodeo schools? Guidelines provided by accredited trainers so will fall under standards and guidelines.
40 rodeo schools Australia wide a year maximum. Training of vets at rodeo schools is a possibility – 2 days.
Rodeo schools – should form part of the rodeo code. Animals in the schools are used for the same function as a rodeo. In Victoria, rodeo schools are incorporated in the Victorian code. The rules of rodeo schools should be enforceable for animal welfare and public perception

Need to know who is part of the Rodeo Federation. Rodeos run by the Federation registered on website. If not registered, organising group is not part of the Federation. Website not live yet.

Action: Communication
Email Glen Mansfield to get content on website.

Contentious issue: calf roping
RSPCA and Animals Australia do not agree that this should be a rodeo event.
Definition of calf – cattle less than 6 months of age (Transport Code)
Shane – stock contractor. Caves used in the event must be owned by the stock contractor. Preconditioned to running through the chute prior to the event.
Calves assessed for suitability – lighter calves 110 -115kg – the lighter the animal, the less stress on the neck, easier to lift. Larger calf more likely to be hurt. Contest is now shorter – 7 seconds instead of previous 10 seconds.
Calf must not be mistreated before it is released from the chute.
Calf must be weaned.
Calves only used for a maximum of twice in a day. Calves assessed after the first event to determine if suitable for the second event.
Roping device to limit jerk must be used (intention to make this an industry standard for all rodeos). Research continuing on best rope to use with the device. Aim to reduce impact on calf at the end of the rope – similar to control descent device for abseiling. where the release of the rope is slowed. On-going evaluation of the device. Scientific assessment of the device on a calf including behavioural assessment and recovery.
Necessity of calf roping as an event –normal work practice in extensive cattle farming conditions that has evolved as a sport.
Ideological debate on the ethos of using calves for this event. Is calf roping an appropriate method for separating a calf from a herd for treatment (the practice which is demonstrated at the rodeo)? Is the event fair for the calf as the event is for a person’s enjoyment rather than a necessary procedure?
Further discussion required in this issue involving both consideration of the science and ethics.
Practical exposure to calves before and after an event suggested to provide a realistic evaluation of what occurs
Victorian Code has set 200kg limit which has effectively stopped calf roping as an event.
Calf roping recognised as potentially the event to affect the future community perception of rodeos

Action: Calf roping
Victorian DPI to provide information on the policy behind the decision to raise the minimum limit to 200kg. – Naomi Freil

Action: Calf Roping
Glen Mansfield to take names of persons interested in observation of calves in a calf roping event.

Action: Calf Roping
Working group to review research options for evaluation of impact of calf roping on calves, using the device. Potential use of Animal Welfare and Science Unit, University of Queensland. Amanda Patterson RSPCA Qld , Steve Bradshaw APRA, Joy (Animal Welfare League Qld), Shane (stock contractor)

Issue: Electric Prods
Currently minimal use and rules on when it can and cannot be used. Rules based on Land transport standards and NCCAW guidelines. Can’t be used in situations where the animal cannot move away from the prod.
Need everyone to use the prods correctly – the reason why standards are required.
Prod use can increase the stress levels of an animal. Aim is to keep the animal calm. Prod discussed as less stressful than other devices.
Prod only used on certain areas of the animal – must be haired.
Victoria DPI – electric prods cannot be used on horses. Discussion regarding whether no use of the prod can train a horses to be difficult in the chute. Why the ban was put in place not discussed at meeting- reason not available. However, prod may be used on a horse but only if determined by a veterinarian.
Awareness at the meeting that misuse of the device can occur and that these occasions need to be covered in the standards.
ABCRA training course based on livestock standards for use of prods. Highest level of skills involved.
Use of prod as last resort. Need to outline what should be done initially. The skills of the operator should be stated – not everyone on the site should have access to the device. Identify the occasions when it can be used. Should not be used on ‘new’ animals but on an experienced animal that is recalcitrant. Use a maximum of two times and then release the animal. Behaviour of the animal can worsen if prodded excessively.
Suggestion that the device should not be held routinely but only picked up when required. This could be a guideline. Best solution is that only official person can use the device.
Training module to include prerequisites before the device is used. Outline the instances when it can be used and include observation of the animal’s behaviour.

Action: Electric prod
Standard and guidelines develop to specify who can use the device and when it can be used and the training required for the operator.

Issue; Flank Straps
Flank straps used on horses to make then buck out behind and reduce risk of injury to them. Without the strap can be erratic action of the legs and greater chance of injury. Strap is not tight – promotes a natural actions that is more controlled. Strap won’t work if tight. Removal of strap does not necessarily stop the horse bucking – only affect the action. Encourages the horse to kick out towards the strap. Describes as a ‘tickle’ rather than an irritation. If the animal is hurt, it will not perform or will rear over backwards. It is not tightened in the chute.
Bull normally ceases bucking when the rider is ejected. Straps are adjusted so they don’t fall off. Sheep wool or leather straps (nylon doesn’t have any give) Specification as per national NCCAW and draft document.
Issue: spurs
Spurs not to be used as a goad whilst the animal is in the chute.
Description of spurs outlined in the draft document – dulled rowels, free running on horses, quarter turn on bulls.

Issue: shade water and feed

Code presently states that animals should be a minimum of 8 hours without water. Concerns raised if transport issues (delays), prevailing weather conditions, quality of water available – shorter period off water would be necessary.
Adverse effects if animal drink directly before competition – animal is uncomfortable.
Access to water after the animal has cooled down
Calves should have ready access to water at all times. Need to set minimum period of water withhold.
Access to water important – size of trough for number of animals in yard.
Agreed that stock should be removed from water one hour before competing and water should be provided by a maximum of two hours after completion.
Stock must have access to water on arrival to rodeo venue.
Agreed position should be part of good practice guidelines

Temperature can be used as a reason for deferring or delaying an event. Discussion on what temperature should be threshold. Heat adapted cattle can tolerate and perform at higher temperature than animals from temperate zones.
Temperature Humidity index more important than temperature alone. Lower temperature at high humidity can cause heat stress faster than higher temperatures at low humidity.
Require guidelines – suggestions included feedlot guidelines and beef cooperative research centre work (Armidale).
Information available for shade for cattle but no information on shade for horses

Action: Shade
Victorian DPI to check if shade guidelines for horses exist.

Action: Shade
Existing research on shade and effect of temperature on stock to be reviewed (no-one assigned this action).

Use of body condition scoring.
Discussion on whether a skinny horse is under fed or in fit condition (rangy).
A number of parameters need to be assessed when condition scoring, not one (such as fat coverage of ribs)
Range of acceptable scores 2.5 to 4.
Discussion on graduations on score not addressed in the information provided. Require wording to define half scores.
All stock to be vet assessed before an event

Issue: Animal Welfare Officer
Rodeo Association state that judges check all stock and know code of practice and have completed animals welfare courses – judges should be animal welfare officers. Judges are accountable for their actions
Discussion on whether judges should complete a test to meet the standard. Need to be assessed in the proposed training modules.
Discussion that there is a perceived conflict of interest with a judge who might be seen to want an event to continue and an independent assessor of animal welfare.
Animal Welfare officer can administer treatment to animals on site (if allowed under legislation in a jurisdiction). Judges have other duties to perform than devote adequate time for animal care.
Need independence for the checking of all stock (contract and non contract).
Stock contractors can treat their own stock.
Euthanasia – methods that can be used and who can use it will differ between the jurisdictions (different requirements in Prevention to Cruelty to Animals Act and Veterinary Practices Act (and equivalents). Specific training would be required e.g. use of captive bolt, requirement for firearms licence (firearm usage would be restricted).

Issue: Responsibilities of officials
Concerns raised regarding the responsibilities of the rodeo organiser in the code. This person may have no specific knowledge about rodeos. They would need to contact the rodeo association for details of accredited people to hire. The responsibilities should be shared between the rodeo association and the stock contractor.
Responsibilities for the stock contractor should be identified in the National Code. In Victoria, stock contractors are permit holders and are accountable.
Competencies for animal welfare officer role need to be defined. The animal welfare officer main responsibility should be focused on the welfare components of the events and when the animals are not competing.
Need for specific welfare officer may be unnecessary if veterinarian is in attendance. But veterinarian would require trained person for assistance.

Issue: identification of livestock
NLIS for movement of all cattle (including calves)
Individual identification recorded at an event. This information is kept by APRA and available on website.
Bulls are ear tagged and branded.
Horses are freeze branded on rump.
RSPA would require this information for accountability – check the numbers of events animals are used in over a period of time. – track animals and determine spell times. to determine if overuse is occurring. Animals should be rotated. Information essential if random audit of animal use is carried out by enforcement agencies.

Record of injuries at rodeo events. This information can be accessible from the Rodeo Federation. The statistics require to be analysed to diagnose possible problems and action taken where appropriate.

Rodeo School
Upper Horton Rodeo school 14-15 December (near Barraba –Tamworth) Participants invited to visit to see what happens at a school.

Prohibited events
Animals Australia discussed why station buckjumping with cracking of the whip was an allowable event. Discussion that this was a heritage event run by some committees. The event is not condoned by the rodeo association. Was not often performed.
Bucking jumping in a pollie saddle – stock saddle instead of an international saddle. Whip should not be used.
Wild donkey rides and wild cattle ride – these are not trained stock and are not conditioned for the rodeo. Poor public perception.
Cattle scruffing – handling and throwing of cattle
Use of calves in events other than rope and tie are prohibited event sin some jurisdictions.
High risk events should not be run at rodeos

Issue: Age of competitors
Currently no age limit for competitors.Discussion whether young people should be shown low stress techniques for handling stock rather than techniques shown in rodeo events. Discussion truncated due to time constraints.



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