Rodeo Animal Welfare

If you have any questions regarding Rodeo Animal Welfare please contact the NZRCA Animal Welfare Convenor Laurie Latta on 03 415 9215

Rodeo Events

Find out more about the events held at a New Zealand Rodeo

Code of Welfare - Rodeos

The code of welfare applies to anyone responsible for the welfare of all animals being used in rodeos. This link opens MPI website where you can download the code and associated documents. If you would like to receive a copy of the code please contact the Secretary.


Rodeo Animal Welfare

The welfare of animals is of paramount importance to the NZRCA and its membership in order to ensure the wellbeing of all livestock and to protect and enhance the integrity of rodeo as a sport.

Every effort is made to ensure the standards required by the 'Code Of Welfare - Rodeos' are upheld and in many instances exceeded. This includes the strict enforcement of weight limits for both stock and contestants, and ensuring all equipment used is approved and in keeping with both the code of welfare and NZRCA rules.

It should be noted that: Animal welfare is monitored by independent Veterinarians at every Rodeo event and accurate records are kept and maintained. Animals are thoroughly inspected by Veterinarians both before and after the Rodeo event.

In addition, the practices and policies set out in the NZRC's own Rulebook are consistently reviewed and updated by the NZRCA in conjunction with other qualified persons to improve the safety of animals and to reduce any actual or perceived harm to the animal participants of sport of Rodeo.

The NZRCA takes animal welfare seriously and will investigate fully any infringements of the Code that are reported to it.

If at any time you witness an incident at any Rodeo event that you believe goes against the Code of Welfare of animals the NZRCA encourages you to, without delay, contact NZRCA Animal Welfare Convenor Laurie Latta on 03 415 9215 and/or report it directly to the Animal Welfare Officers or Veterinarian in attendance at the event.

The code of welfare applies to anyone responsible for the welfare of all animals being used in rodeos. The link to the Code of elfare above can be used to visit the MPI website where you can download the code and associated documents in full.

Also of interest are the following documents on the MPI page:

Animal Welfare - Codes of Welfare. The MPI page contains a list of links to all the various codes of practice that relate to specific animal species

Animal Welfare - Report to accompany the Code of Welfare - Rodeo. A document that should be read in conjunction with the Code of Welfare-Rodeos

It details:

- the reasons for NAWAC’s recommendations;
- the nature of any significant differences of opinion about the code, or any provision of it, that have been shown by the submissions; and
- the nature of any significant differences of opinion about the code, or any provision of it, that have occurred within NAWAC.
- There are a number of minimum standards where the animal welfare implications are self-evident and require no explanation for their inclusion. NAWAC has decided that it will not provide comment on these minimum standards or recommended best practices, but will provide explanations on minimum standards which it believes are complex or controversial or on which it received submissions with significant differences of opinion.



The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is an independent agency established under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to provide independent advice to the government minister responsible for animal welfare.

NAWAC is made up of a chairperson, the chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, and up to 9 other members. Members are chosen for their expertise and need a range of knowledge and experience including - veterinary science; agricultural science; animal science; the commercial use of animals; the care, breeding and management of companion animals; ethical standards and conduct in respect of animals;animal welfare advocacy; understanding of the public's interest in animals; and environmental and conservation management.

The current chairperson is Dr Gwyneth Verkerk, a retired veterinarian from Hamilton, with an extensive national and international career in animal science.

NAWAC oversees 18 different animal welfare codes of practice and last reviewed the sport of rodeo in 2014.

NAWAC was asked by incoming associate agriculture minister Hon Meka Whaitiri to inquire into specific allegations, made by SAFE and other animal activist groupings, relating to the conduct of rodeo events in New Zealand.

The key conclusions that NAWAC in its 2018 report are –

1. That the alleged acts of animal cruelty inflicted at rodeo events, allegations made by SAFE and other animal activists, are actually covered by existing law and, by implication, should have been reported and prosecuted by independent vets, MPI official or animal welfare officers attending those rodeos, if they had actually occurred;
2. That rodeo in New Zealand should be self-regulating and NAWAC recommends non-regulatory actions aimed at achieving that end;
3. That specific rodeo events – from barrel racing to the controversial rope and tie – have options that may improve animal welfare, but none include outright banning of the event;
4. That further research is required to assess the actual extent of animal injuries in rodeo events, and that will involve the euthanisation of some competing animals to achieve that purpose.

NZ Rodeo and Cowboys’ Response

Since the 2017/18 rodeo season, the NZ Rodeo and Cowboys Association have further examined their internal practices and procedures relating to animal welfare at their sanctioned events.

The Board of NZ Rodeo and Cowboys have sanctioned the following reforms that will improve animal welfare at 2018/19 events.
1. Reduced the time limit for Rope & Tie runs from 60 to 30 seconds
2. Only one run down the arena for Rope & Tie, Team Roping and Steer Wrestling events
3. Neck catches only in Rope & tie
4. Removed the 6-second tie requirement in Rope & tie
5. Only contract calves to be used in Rope & Tie
6. NO handling of animal tails under any circumstances
7. The introduction of Contractors’ Agreements
8. Calf untiers must be experienced and speedy
9. Judges will strictly enforce Rule 12.4.25 and any perceived mistreatment of competing animals
10.Increased minimum weight of calves for calf rides to 200 kgs
11.Formal arena inspections to be completed by Board appointee
12.Horses to be neck tied in the chute (improving safety)

In addition, NZ Rodeo has pledged its ongoing co-operation with NAWAC and independent animal welfare agencies for the purpose of ensuring the highest professional standards of animal care.

For further technical information, please contact President Lyal Cocks.