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NZ Rodeo confirms new animal welfare changes for new season

Association has reviewed its animal welfare practices and will implement four key changes for the 2018/19 season.

President Lyal Cocks said today that “we constantly review our events to look at how we can improve safety for competitors and animals alike. This year’s AGM confirmed changes to our rodeo practices that will improve animal safety.”

The changes are;

1. Improving the training and competence of contestants in the rope & tie and steer wrestle events;
2. In the rope & tie events, only one legal catch attempt;
3. In the rope & tie and steer wrestling events, there will only be one permitted run to catch the animal (ie the animal cannot be chased around the arena);
4. The calf ride event to be optional but stock must now be a minimum of 200 kgs (up from 150 kgs). NB: riders must weigh less than 50 kgs.

“ We are seeking to ensure that any animal injuries at rodeo events, as rare as they might be, are neither due to poor practice nor inadequate training.”

“ We met with the government minister responsible for animal welfare, Hon. Meta Whaitiri, and with the chairperson of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) Dr Gywneth Verkerk, and pledged our ongoing co-operation for any research aimed at improving animal welfare at rodeo events,” said Mr Cocks. “That offer of co-operation remains.”

The resignation of Minister Whaitiri had created uncertainty around a number of animal welfare reviews, including that of the code for rodeos.

“ However, we have met with NAWAC, MPI, SPCA and veterinarian representatives, and agreed upon a set of actions that will address recommendations made by NAWAC that may further improve animal welfare. We will always aim to review our practices to ensure the maximum safety for human and animal competitors.”

There are eighteen (18) separate codes of welfare for animals, and rodeo is but one. Other codes cover the slaughter of animals and painful husbandry techniques.

The 2018/19 rodeo season begins at Labour Weekend with the first events in
Winchester and Methven.

“ The sport is in great heart. We had record crowd attendances at a number of events last year - and our cowboys and cowgirls competed, and provided great family entertainment, at over thirty different venues.”

Mr Cocks said that SAFE and other anti-rodeo groups will continue to protest “irrespective of whatever we do to improve our safety and practices. They have a much wider agenda than banning rodeos. They want all animal sport banned, full stop, including greyhound racing, horse racing, and equestrian events. And even zoos.”

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