Rodeos don't use electric prods, tail-twisting - Michael Laws

The rodeo industry has denied using four of the five controversial practises the Government says it will investigate, following weeks of protests against the sport.

Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri on Thursday said she'd asked animal welfare officials to look into calf-roping, electric prodders, flank straps, rope burning and tail twisting.

"I have also asked my officials to see how we can improve welfare for animals used in rodeos."

Rodeo and Cowboys Association spokesman Michael Laws said of the five practises, rodeos nowadays banned all but one.

"Four of them are illegal and we would frown on them anyhow. They are not best rodeo practise at all. The only thing we do is calf-roping."

In calf-roping, a rider on a horse tried to catch a calf with a loop of rope, before dismounting and tying its legs together. Green MP Gareth Hughes is drafting a Private Member's Bill to have it outlawed.

"I think everyone could agree it's unacceptable to have cows as young as three months tormented in these events," he told Newshub in December.

Mr Laws said calves "are not stressed by it to a considerable degree", and it's "not aggressive".

"Animals just don't get injured in this sport... Less than in normal farming practise and in virtually every other animal sport."

He says it's far more likely people get hurt than animals. But this is another reason animal activists want it banned.

"I would describe it as very violent," Dan Challenger from the Animal Justice League told Newshub in January. "It shows a very reckless attitude towards animals - not only that but it shows a reckless attitude towards people's safety as well."

"In 2014, and again in 2016, Parliament and policymakers inquired into rodeo from an animal welfare perspective and pronounced themselves satisfied. We expect a similar outcome, but we'll always look at the science and improving practises."

Ms Whaitiri said rodeo at this stage would not be banned.

"It was not surprising," said Mr Laws.

"There's no science that supports anything other than the way in which rodeo has been conducted over the last five years. We're the most scrutinised sport in New Zealand. Every year we get scrutinised, and every year the same report comes back - that we're doing it properly, that the animal welfare legislation is fine."

Mr Laws said the decision will please the large rodeo community in Otago, where he lives now.

"They have been unfairly maligned for a long time."