Throughout its 21-year history, the PBR has taken the position that there are two great athletes in every 8-second ride. The bulls are treated with as much respect as the human athletes who ride them. The PBR’s Animal Welfare Policy summarizes this and exemplifies the great respect that everyone associated with the organization shares for our animal athletes as well as the care they receive as valuable members of our family:
Since 1996, there have been approximately 133,880 “outs” (bull ride attempts) at approximately 1,408 events across all of the series operated by or sanctioned by Professional Bull Riders, Inc. for an average of 95.09 outs per event. Of those outs, approximately 51,999 occurred at roughly 517 elite level (Built Ford Tough Series) events which the PBR operates directly. The balance of the outs occurred at PBR’s sanctioned events which are operated by independent third-party promoters in accordance with PBR’s rules and guidelines, including animal welfare practices and policies.
PBR Safety & Welfare Measures
PBR has proactively initiated and implemented a number of projects designed to foster and support the welfare of our animal athletes.
• PBR initiated a redesign of the traditional rodeo bucking chute aimed at improving rider and bull safety. Since it was implemented, the design has eliminated leg injuries suffered by bulls in the bucking chutes, which is the most common form of injury.
• PBR initiated a redesign of the traditional rodeo lead-up alleys and holding areas to further mitigate the risk of injuries to the bulls.
• PBR worked with stock contractors to establish guidelines for the transportation of bulls to and from events, including but not limited to:
PBR is working with leading veterinarians and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (a part of the American Veterinary Medicine Association) to review and document PBR’s animal welfare policy and practices. PBR intends to secure a written and published approval of PBR’s guidelines by the AABP and AVMA.
The welfare of PBR’s animal athletes is a higher priority than any other consideration when making decisions with respect to the animal’s well-being, including the financial impact of those decisions. One example of the PBR’s commitment to animal welfare ahead of profit was the Hawaii All-Star event held in November 2006. PBR had an option to ship bulls to Hawaii via boat which would have taken seven days, but at considerably less cost than other alternatives. PBR determined that the welfare of the animals would be compromised, and invested almost $350,000, compared to less than $100,000 if shipped by sea, to fly the necessary bulls to the event in special, customized containers.
The value of the bulls to the contractors who own and breed them, and to the PBR, helps ensure that every effort and safeguard is in place to protect the bulls from any treatment or situation that would adversely affect their ability to continue performing or their futures as breeding bulls. Many of the bulls currently performing on the PBR tour are valued in the six-figure range, and even the lesser-known bulls are far too valuable for their owners or the PBR to allow them to be injured or mistreated.
Care of the Animal Athletes
• Bulls receive about 10-15 pounds of a special blend of a high-protein grain ration per day. The blend varies depending on the bull’s needs and the stock contractor.
• Bulls receive approximately 15 pounds of high-quality hay per day.
• Many bulls receive a B-12 complex vitamin shot monthly as well as nutritional supplements.
• Bulls receive a health inspection any time they have to cross state lines per federal, state and city regulations.
• Bulls are only allowed to travel a maximum of 10 hours per day. After 10 hours, the bulls are rested for 12-14 hours.
• Bulls are standing in 6-10 inches of sawdust shavings during transport.
• Each stock contractor has a local veterinarian on call for their bulls.
Many bulls also receive chiropractic care and acupuncture as needed to keep them in top shape and feeling great.
Bucking Bulls Q&A
Like humans, PBR bucking bulls come in an array of shapes, sizes, and colors, and like humans, their own personalities and talents make them unique-The PBR has a vast number of championship-caliber bulls that compete on the PBR’s multi-tiered tour structure. The bulls receive impeccable treatment and are often considered to be a “member of the family.”
Here are some frequently-asked questions about the welfare of PBR bucking bulls and the equipment used in professional bull riding.
Q: Can any bull compete in a PBR event?
A: Not every bull can compete in a PBR event. Saying any bull is suitable for PBR competition is like saying that any human athlete is fit enough to compete in the Olympic Games. PBR bulls are the highest-caliber bucking bulls in the business. Many are products of elite breeding programs that for years have been fine-tuning the important role that genetics play in producing a great bucking bull. A majority of PBR bulls are bred and born to compete in the PBR arena.
Q: What does the average bull weigh?
A: The average PBR bucking bull weighs approximately 1,600-1,700 pounds. PBR bucking bulls very rarely weigh less than 1,200 pounds but can weigh as much as 2,000-2,200 pounds.
Q: What does a bull eat?
A: Bulls eat high-protein feed and high-quality hay. High-protein feed helps the bulls keep their strength and endurance. High-quality hay provides nutrients that help keep a bull healthy.
Q: Where do bulls live?
A: The bulls live on large ranches where they get plenty of air and exercise. There are many ranches from coast-to-coast across North America.
Q: What is the average PBR bull worth?
A: The monetary value of a bucking bull depends greatly upon his proven performance in the arena; however, most PBR bulls are worth at least $10,000, with a few boasting values of more than $500,000. An animal, which is a proven sire of other quality bucking bulls, becomes even more valuable. A PBR bull is ranked just like the PBR bull riders. When a bull consistently receives high marks, his value increases. The higher the ranking in areas such as overall performance, buckoff percentage, and average rider score, the higher the conceivable price tag.
Q: What is the lifespan of a bucking bull?
A: Bucking bulls often live well into their teens, which would be considered geriatric for any bull. Though a bucking bull may often be in his prime as an athlete around age 5 or 6, many bulls buck past the age of 10. When they retire from competition they’re often used as sires in bucking bull breeding programs.
Q: What makes a bull buck?
A: The success of bucking bull breeding programs around the world has proven that genetics are the most prevalent factor in determining a bull’s desire and ability to buck.
The bulls will kick their hind legs out at the height of their bucking action in an effort to dislodge the flank rope that encircles their body. The flank strap helps create a more uniform, less erratic bucking performance, which helps prevent bulls from injuring themselves. The flank strap is positioned around the bull’s flank, in front of their hips. The bull’s bucking has absolutely nothing to do with irritation to the genitals as some uneducated detractors would attest. Care is taken to ensure that the genitals are not involved as that would adversely affect the performance of the bulls. The flank strap never comes in contact with the bull’s genitals.
The American Bucking Bull is a recognized breed of cattle now, thanks to the PBR and ABBI (American Bucking Bull Inc.). ABBI has over 160,000 animals with bucking bull genetics registered in its database.
Q: What is a bull rope?
A: The bull rope is what the bull rider hangs on to throughout his ride. It is wrapped around the chest of the bull directly behind the animal’s front legs. At the bottom of the rope hangs a metal bell designed to give the rope some weight so that it will fall off the bull as soon as the rider is bucked off or dismounts the animal. The bell has smooth, round edges and does not harm the bull in any way.
Q: What is the difference between a Conventional and a Brazilian bull rope?
A: The most apparent difference is that the ropes are pulled from opposite sides. The Conventional rope is pulled from the riding hand side while the Brazilian rope is pulled from the free hand side.
There are also subtle differences in the way the ropes are braided. With a conventional bull rope, the loop (the knotted part of the rope used for adjustment) is on the free hand side of the handle while the tail (the portion of rope that is run through the loop and back to the hand) is on the riding hand side of the handle. The Brazilian rope is braided with the loop on the riding hand side and the tail on the free hand side. The style used is one which the rider feels gives them the best grip and neither style harms the bull in any way.
Q: Do the spurs worn by a bull rider cut or scratch a bull?
A: Bull riders wear spurs that are required to have dull, loosely locked rowels (the wheel-like part of the spur that comes into contact with the animal). The spurs help a rider maintain his balance by giving him added grip with his feet. The spurs do not cut or scratch a bull’s hide, which is seven times thicker than a human’s skin.
Q: How many miles do bulls travel on the PBR circuit?
A: The PBR has an extensive network of stock contractors located in all parts of North America, therefore the best bulls in the country are provided for each event regardless of location. The bulls arrive at the arena at least 24 hours prior to an event which helps ensure that they are acclimated, rested, well-fed and hydrated prior to competition.
Q: Is there a veterinarian on site at all PBR events?
A: There is always a veterinarian on site at Built Ford Tough Series events. If there appears to be a sick or injured bull at an event, the veterinarian is notified immediately. Health papers are also required on all animals arriving at an event. They are inspected as they are unloaded prior to competition.
PBR stock contractors treat their bulls with respect because they are a huge investment. These animals are truly gifted, so they are given the absolute best care available.
There are approximately 60 bulls at a one-day event, 90 bulls at a two-day event and 110 bulls at a three-day event. A bull bucks only one time per day and no more than two times at a typical event. Approximately 30-40 of the bulls at a typical two-day event will buck only once at that event.
PBR policy for injured bulls:
Bulls receive 25-30 lbs of a special blend of mixed grain per day. Blend varies depending on the bull’s needs and the stock contractor.
Bulls receive 20 lbs of Alfalfa or Alfalfa-grass blend per day.
Bulls receive a B-12 complex vitamin shot every two weeks.
Bulls receive a health inspection any time they have to cross state lines.
Bulls are only allowed to travel a maximum of 10 hours per day. After 10 hours, the bulls are rested for 12-14 hours.
Bulls are standing in 6-10 inches of sawdust shavings during transport.
Each stock contractor has a local veterinarian on call for their bulls.