The Behavior of Roping Cattle During a Team Roping Run
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Team roping is a sport that has been around since the late 1800s. Today, thousands of dollars are up for grabs every day for the team with the fastest run. In order to become competitive in team roping, it takes a lot of good practice. However, this practice can be hindered if the roping cattle pick up a behavior that prevents them from being roped. This study focuses on what cue the roping cattle respond to with a learned preventative behavior. It was hypothesized that since cattle cannot focus quickly on objects due to slit-shaped pupils, they would be more likely to rely on hearing to sense someone trying to catch them, allowing them to respond with a behavior that prevents them from being roped. The data did not entirely support this. Rather than all cattle responding to the same cue in the same way, individuals picked up specific behaviors most likely caused by different cues. There was a trend that when eyesight was manipulated (by turning the horn wraps around) it was more effective on cattle that exhibited behaviors of running to the left or right. Likewise, manipulating hearing (with soft earplugs) was most effective on cattle that ducked their head. Overall, this study leaves room to suggest that whether the steer responds to an audible or visual cue from the roper should be determined on an individual basis. The findings of this study provide information for team ropers to use so they can make their time and investment in practice cattle the most effective.