Best buckin’ bulls treated like royalty
THEY'RE big, strong young males, fast and agile, all muscle and movement.
They are recognised internationally as supreme athletes. Some of them have never been beaten.
Some have their own nutritionists. And they get to eat the best hay you can buy.
Forget the cowboys: the bucking bulls are the stars of professional bull riding.
Professional Bull Riding Australia general manager Glen Young said it's the bulls that people love to come and watch.
"There's a bull that's touring that's never been ridden, called Gotcha Rockin' - he's a Banteng, which is an Indonesian-bred bull," Mr Young said.
"He's thrown off the best of them. No-one's even come close to getting him ridden."
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Another Banteng bull heading up to the Fraser Coast, named Suicidal, is coming all the way from Ipswich and despite touring with PBR for three years, has been unridden.
"He'll throw a rider off then he'll do a victory lap around the arena and run out and go back to his mate in the back pen, nice and calm," Mr Young said.
So what's life like for a star bull?
Mr Young said if he was reincarnated, he would come back as a bull.
"They'll do 8 to 10 shows a year - if they go unridden they probably work less than 10 seconds," he said.
"They're on feed that's specifically formulated to keep them in great condition and healthy, and at the end of the day they get a herd of cows to breed to because the genetics is so important."
According to Mr Young, PBR adopted the international animal welfare code.
"They don't ever have to worry about going to a meatworks and getting their head cut off. Ninety-nine percent will die under their favourite tree of old age.
"We don't allow electric prods at events - we don't use bulls that are stressed or likely to cause injury to themselves," he said.
"These bulls are raised from birth on a bucket, they're around people all the time, when they come to our event they've got their own handler in the paddocks.
"Bulls are 50 per cent of our sport. Without them, we don't have it. It's really important for us to make sure they're looked after and suitable to our competition."
"(Bull breeder) Trevor Dunn in Rockhampton has a nutritionist who comes and designs the feeding program for each individual bull.
"There are no other cattle in the world that get looked after like that. They're sort of treated like royalty.
"Years ago - I'm talkin' 10-15 years ago - people just used to go to a saleyard and buy a bull and then test it to see if it bucked.
"It's more of a genetics program.
"The bulls that you're seeing on this APN tour, their mothers were the daughters of a great buckin' bull; their fathers were a great buckin' bull who may have been the great-grandson of another great buckin' bull.
"We've got these young riders on tour whose fathers were bull riders, who were actually getting on these bulls' parents years ago."