File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Joe Frost, of Randlett, Utah, comes off Creepin, during bull riding rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary. Soaking up the rays or chilling in the shade? A University of Calgary study is looking into whether bucking bulls, arguably the most ill-tempered of rodeo animals at the Calgary Stampede, would be happier and perform better if they had a shady place to rest before the show.

Study checking effect of sun or shade on bulls

CALGARY — Soaking up the rays or chilling in the shade?

A University of Calgary study is looking into whether bucking bulls, arguably the most ill-tempered of rodeo animals at the Calgary Stampede, would be happier and perform better if they had a shady place to rest before the show.

The bulls, weighing between 680 to 900 kilograms, are selected for their tendency to leap, plunge and spin when a rider is on its back. Around the middle of the 20th century, breeders began selecting bulls on the basis of their bad temperament.

“The question about the care of the animals — whether these animals need shade or water — it’s always a question that’s asked by the public … We decided to set up a little trial and start looking at this question,” said Ed Pajor, professor in animal behaviour and welfare in the faculty of veterinary medicine.

“It’s all about animal welfare, animal care.”

Pajor said about two animals a day will be watched to see whether shade or sun has any influence on their behaviour and if there are any signs of heat stress.

It will look at how easily the animals handle, how they move from the back pens to the bucking chutes and whether they are breathing quickly, panting or slobbering.

Pajor said an infrared thermography camera will take the animal’s eye temperature and a nannycam will help monitor whether the bulls are hanging out in the sun or keeping cool.

“We have a pen set up — half of it shaded, half of it in the sun — and we’re letting the animals tell us where they want to spend their time.”

Pajor said it’s a preliminary study and, depending on the results, it might determine the scope of more extensive research next summer on the welfare of animals used in rodeos.

The study’s results also may help to improve the safety of cowboys who climb aboard a bull before the gate opens, he added.

“They all know these bulls and what to expect from these bulls,” Pajor said. “If the (animals) aren’t feeling right, then they may be harder to mount, so there is an element of cowboy safety in the chute.”

He said he suspects bulls prefer to be in the shade, but nothing is conclusive yet.

“Some people would claim that the bucking bulls here travel all around North America … from the southern states to up here in Calgary, and they’re pretty well adapted to these types of conditions,” Pajor said.

“What has become obvious over time is there really is no data on rodeo animals. It is very, very understudied in terms of animal care and welfare.”

Just Posted

Accused murderer tells all to Mr. Big undercover officer

Joshua Frank tells undercover police officer he shot the Klaus family

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre prepares to open

Non-profit will run the facility and agencies will provide staff

A slow economic recovery isn’t yet loosening Central Alberta’s tight job market

Job-seekers at Red Deer fair say there are still few openings

Rocky Mountain House man arrested for child luring

A 30-year-old Rocky Mountain House man was arrested after allegedly having explicit… Continue reading

Parkinson association will close offices but maintain services

Offices closing in Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge

WATCH: Central Middle School students’ Christmas tree

A group of Central Middle School students are set to show off… Continue reading

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Semi collides with vehicle on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

Members of the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit dealt with a call on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

After 70 years, Red Deer veteran still remembers his traumatic war experience

Frank Krepps feels lucky to have survived the Second World War

Merritt Mountie charged with assault

Charges are in relation to an incident in May at the detachment, B.C. Prosecution Service said

Blackfalds RCMP arrest “armed and dangerous” man

A 38-year-old man, who police identified as armed and dangerous, was arrested… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month