'Violent' rodeo video prompts calls for UK shoppers to boycott NZ farming products

There are calls for shoppers in the UK to boycott New Zealand agricultural products as a protest against the sport of rodeo.

The Independent newspaper reported over the weekend activists were telling UK shoppers that buying New Zealand wool, meat and dairy products "helps fund extreme violence towards animals by some of the country's farmers".

The campaigners say British supermarkets "are complicit in facilitating violence" by buying New Zealand products.

Lynn Charlton, of the group Anti Rodeo Action NZ, told Newshub recent footage taken at the Methven and Winchester rodeos highlights just how "violent" the sport is, and said the group was "blowing the whistle internationally".

"It shows animals that are in a great deal of distress with their mouths open, bucking excessively after the rider is off - because they've got a bucking strap on them," Charlton said on Tuesday.

Although not visible in the footage, Charlton also said it was "standard practice" to use electric prodders to move bulls into position.

"How else do you force these massive animals to cooperate with you, when they know what's coming?"

She said the group hoped the campaign calling for a boycott of New Zealand agricultural products would put pressure on New Zealand to ban the sport, just as the UK had done in 1934.

"What we're wanting now is for farmers to decide what they want. Do they want rodeos or are their exports more important to them?

"Rodeo only exists because farmers supply the animals, and farmers and the Government now need to decide what's more important to them: rodeo or exports."

Charlton said the campaign in the UK was also asking "consumers to make a choice" about what they buy.

"Animals have as much right to humane treatment as we do," she said.

Will Appelbe, a spokesperson for animal rights group SAFE, said rodeo events "promote bullying and glorify violence".

"We know that rodeo events inflict fear, panic and pain on animals. Rodeo is animal cruelty. It's not who we are as a nation, and it's now become a risk to our reputation."

The New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association (NZRCA) insists it "takes animal welfare seriously" and says "animals are thoroughly inspected by veterinarians both before and after" events. 

NZRCA president Lyal Cocks told Newshub claims made by Anti Rodeo Action NZ were "false, misleading and emotive", in addition to being "to the detriment of New Zealand".

"The fact that the animal welfare officers, veterinarians and independent MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] inspectors who attend all rodeos, did not have to address any of these allegations, clearly shows how deceitful and wrong this group is," Cocks said.

"Electric prodders are not used 'routinely' on animals. They are used occasionally as permitted by the Animal Welfare Act, if needed to move large cattle in unconstrained areas of the yards."

Cocks also said it was "rare for animals to die of injuries incurred at rodeos".

"Regrettably, as in all sports, accidents do sometimes happen. The average minor injury rate is around 0.4 percent and serious injury around 0.02 percent," he said.