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Calf scruffing is a new competitive event introduced at some agricultural shows that poses risks of injury and distress to calves. It involves two competitors whose goal is to force a calf onto the ground as quickly as possible. The event begins with the calf being released from a holding chute and one competitor chasing on foot to grab the calf around the horns and head. With the calf's head firmly held by their arm, their team mate then forces the calf to the ground, which may include pulling the calf's tail. Members of the public can participate with no apparent training or skills required.
This event poses many serious risks to the welfare of the calves involved, particularly injury, pain and distress due to:
Calf scruffing is unacceptable as it is not consistent with good handling practices and it is merely done for sport and entertainment. Humane handling of calves consists of gentle guiding, in a quiet and patient manner with minimal direct contact.
The RSPCA discourages organisers of agricultural shows from including calf scruffing due to the inherent and unnecessary risks of causing suffering to calves. Hosting such events condones inhumane treatment.
Spectators who attend an event where this competition is included may wish to raise concerns with the event organisers to help safeguard the welfare of calves.