Animal welfare, which is caring for and meeting an animal's needs, is practiced as a matter of course in the sport of rodeo. We respect, admire, and want to take care of the animals that are so important to our way of life.
It's obvious that rodeo is not taxing for the huge, powerful bulls that toss cowboys around like rag dolls, but some people may wonder if roping is hard on calves. A calf has more than tripled its weight when it is first roped, which is at about 200 pounds on the Senior Pro Rodeo tour, and is a strong animal. It takes the special roping and handling skills exhibited by the rodeo cowboy to manage the strength of a calf whose instinct is to flee or fight rather than cuddle.
The roping contest is an extension of the necessary skills developed by ranch cowboys on the open range over the last 200 years, to help with doctoring, etc., without benefit of pens and corrals. The muscular structure of a calf and its hairy, thick hide allows prudent roping without harm. As is observed, immediately upon removal of the rope, calves trot out of the arena in a most unconcerned manner. Calves, who soon outgrow weight limits for the event, then fulfill the same purpose they would have in the dairy or beef industry, after their brief stint in the rodeo arena.