Sentience Matters: Analysing the Regulation of Calf-Roping in Australian Rodeos

Animals (Basel). 2022 Apr 20;12(9):1071. doi: 10.3390/ani12091071.


Animal sentience is recognised either implicitly or explicitly in legislation in all Australian states and territories. In these jurisdictions, animal welfare legislation prohibits acts of cruelty towards animals because animals have the capacity to experience pain or suffering. This acknowledgement is supported by scientific research that demonstrates animal sentience, as well as public opinion. Despite these legal prohibitions, calf-roping, a common event at rodeos, is permitted in the majority of Australian jurisdictions. In recent times, calf-roping has generated significant public concern due to the potential for injury, pain or distress for the calves involved. This concern is evidently shared in some overseas jurisdictions, such as New Zealand, where animal advocacy organisations have filed a legal challenge asserting that rodeo events violate New Zealand's animal welfare legislation due to the pain and distress inflicted on the animals. This commentary discusses these welfare concerns, the legislative inconsistencies between Australian jurisdictions and the problematic legal status of calf-roping in Australia.

Keywords: calf-roping; regulation; sentience; welfare.