Rodeos in Victoria - Legal Requirements
Ensuring the welfare of animals used in rodeos is the main objective of the legislation governing the running of rodeos in Victoria.
The licensing and operation of rodeos in Victoria is regulated under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and Regulations. This legislation sets out requirements for both operators and participants in rodeos/rodeo schools.
The legislation separates the responsibilities into three areas, those requirements which are solely the responsibility of the licence/permit holder, those which are the responsibility of the attending veterinary practitioner and those for which anyone not complying may be held responsible.
It is important for any person operating, competing, working at or just attending a rodeo to be aware of the legal requirements. This brochure summarises those requirements.
Note: For the purposes of this brochure "rodeo" also refers to a rodeo school unless specifically stated otherwise.
Licence/permit requirements to operate a rodeo
Rodeos can only be operated under a licence or permit issued by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). Rodeo schools can be operated under permit only. A person must be accredited by an approved rodeo organisation to apply for a licence or permit to operate a rodeo.
Licence/permit holder responsibilities
Rodeo licence and permit holders must be aware of and comply with requirements of their licence or permit as well as the general requirements set out in the legislation. Failure to comply could result in infringement notices, court prosecution or revoking of licence or permits.
Conditions of licence or permit include:
- taking responsibility for the management of all animals involved in a rodeo (regardless of whether the licence/permit holder provided them or whether they are from another stock contractor)
- provision of proper and sufficient food, water and shelter for all animals at the rodeo
- ensuring no stimulant or hypnotic substance is used on any animal
- ensuring the rodeo arena, chute and yard fencing is:- strong enough to contain the animals - clearly visible to the animals - constructed in a manner that is not likely to cause injury or harm to any animal
- ensuring any animals in a chute are immediately released if they become caught, try to jump out more than twice or otherwise appear in danger of injury or harming themselves.
Rodeo licence or permit holders must:
- produce the permit or licence to an Inspector on demand
- if operating under licence, notify the Manager, Animal Standards at least 28 days before a rodeo is operated including:
- the dates the rodeo will be held
- the start and finish times for each day of the rodeo
- the location of the rodeo
- the name, address and telephone number of the veterinary practitioner that will attend the rodeo
- a list of all the rodeo events to be held at the rodeo
- the name of the approved organisation with which the licence holder is accredited.
- ensure both they, and the nominated veterinary practitioner, are in attendance at all times when the rodeo is in progress
- accept and implement the instructions of the veterinary practitioner in relation to the animals used at the rodeo
- if notified by the nominated veterinary practitioner of an alternative appointed veterinary practitioner to attend the rodeo, notify the Department Head in writing, at least 48 hours prior to the rodeo, of the name and address of the appointed veterinary practitioner.
Veterinary practitioner's responsibilities
If the nominated veterinary practitioner is unable to attend the rodeo, then:
- if at least 72 hours prior to the rodeo, the veterinary practitioner must appoint another veterinary practitioner to attend the rodeo (ideally in consultation with the rodeo operator) and notify the licence or permit holder in writing of the name and address of the appointed veterinary practitioner. This information must be passed in writing by the licence/permit holder to the Department Head within 48 hours of the rodeo
- in the case of an emergency within 72 hours prior to the rodeo, the veterinary practitioner must appoint another veterinary practitioner (ideally in consultation with the rodeo operator) to attend the rodeo and notify the Manager, Animal Standards in writing of the name and address of the appointed veterinary practitioner
The veterinary practitioner must inspect all animals before and after a rodeo and submit a report detailing the condition of the animals involved to the Manager, Animal Standards Branch.
Regulatory requirements for all rodeo attendees
In addition to the above conditions for the rodeo licence/permit holder, any person, including licence/permit holders, animal handlers and competitors, can now be issued penalty infringement notice or be prosecuted under the regulations if they breach certain regulated rodeo requirements.
Some of these requirements are summarised below:
- electric prodders:
- can only be used on cattle over 3 months of age;
- cannot be used on horses at any time (unless the attending vet has authorised the use for emergency reasons);
- can only be used on the hip or shoulder of cattle;
- can not be used in the arena or a training area; and
- can only be used on cattle in the chute where the animal is down in the chute but in a position to rise; or the animal has refused to leave the open chute.
- no person can strike or poke an animal in a way that may cause unreasonable pain or injury.
- the following animals cannot be used in a rodeo:
- animals other than cattle and horses
- an animal that weighs less than 200 kg
- animals that are lame, sick, injured or have any defects
- mares with foals at foot or cows with calves at foot
- a horse under the age of three years must not take part in bucking events
- no animals other than cattle and horses are allowed into the rodeo arena or training area
- injured animals must be isolated from one another unless otherwise instructed by the veterinary practitioner
- suitable transport to move injured animals from the arena and humanely destroy an injured an animal must be available
- animals must be removed from the arena immediately after completing an event
- cattle and horses must be penned separately and any aggressive animals isolated from each other
- the rodeo arena must be free from rocks, holes and any other obstacles
- a roped animal must not be pulled backwards off its feet or be dragged
- fireworks must not be used during a rodeo event or at a rodeo school
- a person must not ride in, take part in or handle animals used in a rodeo if they are have an alcohol concentration over 0.05 or are under the influence of a drug (same as for driving a car).
There are also a number of regulations that cover issues such as fitting, use and type of equipment. These include:
- saddles must be correctly fitted
- the front cinch on a bucking animal must be a minimum 12 cm in width and rear cinch is not to be over-tightened
- flank straps must not be tightened more than twice on an animal in the chute, must incorporate a quick release device and must be lined
- pads must be placed under rigging of a horse in bareback events and must extend at least 5 cm beyond the back of the rigging
- cattle used in roping events must wear horn wraps
- only free running spur rowels may be worn when riding a horse. Paddle rowels must not be used
- only spur rowels that are capable of at least half a turn may be worn or used when riding a bull
- spur rowels must not be worn or used unless they are dulled, a minimum of 3 mm in width (at narrowest part) and have a minimum of 2 cm to the point of the rowel
- sharp or cutting objects must not be used in the cinch, saddle, girth or flank strap.
Failure to meet these requirements could result in a fine or prosecution for the person who commits the breach.
Fines vary from 1 to 3 penalty units (approximately $140 to $420*) or a maximum court penalty of between 5 to 20 penalty units (approx $700 to $2,800*) depending on the offence. (*penalty unit is $140.84 for 2011/2012 year however they are indexed and are updated on 1 July each year.
This brochure provides a summary only of the legal requirements for rodeos in Victoria. A brochure is also available outlining the legal requirements of participants in rodeos which should be provided to all competitors and animal handlers prior to the rodeo.
Copies of the full legislation are available from the Acts and Regulations page and should be read and understood by all licence or permit holders prior to operating a rodeo.
Further information in relation to rodeos, licences and permits can be found on the rodeo page.
Remember it is your responsibility to ensure that you treat all animals used in a rodeo humanely and comply with the above conditions.