PRCA and Livestock Welfare

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is deeply committed to the proper care and treatment of the livestock used in rodeo. As an association, the PRCA:

  • has established rules and regulations governing livestock welfare,
  • created an animal welfare committee to assist in the association’s efforts to ensure proper care of livestock,
  • conducts livestock welfare surveys to identify successful practices and areas for improvement,
  • educates its membership regarding best practices for livestock handling,
  • monitors compliance with its livestock welfare rules and regulations,
  • educates the public and elected officials about the care provided to rodeo livestock,
  • networks with other organizations about best livestock practices and policies,
  • employs a director of livestock welfare to coordinate all eff orts relating to care and handling of livestock at PRCA-sanctioned events, and
  • works proactively with rodeo committees, stock contractors, contestants and veterinarians through on-site livestock field representatives to ensure all livestock at PRCA rodeos are being handled properly.

What You Should Know About The PRCA and Rodeo Livestock

  • The average bucking horse or bucking bull works less than five minutes a year in the arena.
  • Rodeo livestock have long and healthy lives: Many of today’s top bucking horses are 20 years old,
  • and many bulls are active buckers at 15 years of age. Veterinarians attribute these long, healthy lifespans to good care, quality feed and adequate exercise.
  • PRCA rules prohibit the use of sharpened spurs and other implements that could harm an animal.
  • Human skin is one to two millimeters thick; horse hide is five millimeters thick; bull hide is seven millimeters thick.
  • Stock contractors invest a great deal of money in their breeding and purchase programs; many contractors pay up to five or even six figures for a top-rated bucking animal. Naturally, they are very motivated to take care of these investments.
  • Both bulls and horses have natural bucking tendencies; many do so while playing together in pastures, just as horses naturally race each other.
  • What makes an animal a candidate for rodeo livestock is the absolute determination to buck if something is on its back – often an inherited characteristic, which breeders now work carefully to bring out in “Born to Buck” programs.
  • PRCA rules require flank straps to be lined with fleece or neoprene in the flank area (similar to a human waist); flank straps are tightened just enough to encourage the animal to kick behind itself instead of hopping around the arena. Overtightening would result in the animal’s refusal to move at all, much less buck. Flank straps do not contact an animal’s genitals.
  • The PRCA prohibits the use of electric prods in competition except for horses known to be “chute stallers” – that is, they sometimes hesitate coming out of the chute and then may start bucking in the chute, creating risk to themselves and possibly to contestants. The prod may be used in this case if, and only if, the judge, stock contractor and contestant agree that it is necessary to protect the safety of the animal and/or contestant.