SIR, – As mentioned in last week's front page, New Zealand’s animal welfare standards are under the spotlight in free trade negotiations with the UK, but what may not be known is that – with the approval of New Zealand farming lobby groups and government – our farmers violently assault animals for entertainment at rodeos.

Farmers twist the necks of steers 180° until they collapse. They washing-line calves at the end of a rope, somersaulting or flipping them backwards. Some are dragged along the ground by the neck, cutting off their breathing.

Dressed in cowboy costumes, they spur horses in the neck and shoulders, causing pain and panic. Flank straps are used to make horses and bulls thrash and buck.

Children ride and spur calves wearing bucking straps and steers get their legs pulled out from under them while someone pulls their head in another direction.

As you can imagine, images of these abuses are not used to promote our animal welfare standards. But, these farmers grow beef, sheep and deer. They are dairy farmers, providing milk powder and cheese to overseas markets. They claim rodeo animals are willing athletes and love it.

Anyone that claims this is not fit to be in charge of animals.

Successive governments have refused to ban this cruelty and our National Animal Welfare Committee has approved it for decades.

This year, three pig stories have hit the headlines. Pigs arrived at slaughter on a scorching hot day, dead and dying in a hot metal truck. The authorities had not made sure this did not happen.

Three other farmers were found selling live pigs to Aucklanders to kill in their garden, advising to bash them over the head with a hammer before stabbing them in the heart or throat.

The NZ Pork Board knew nothing about such treatment. Nor did the authorities.

A hunter set six dogs on a wild pig while filming the mauling for Tik Tok – it happens all the time.

Live exports continue – in fact, have ramped up before a ban comes into force next year.

We chain dogs in the hundreds of thousands and starve them into skeletons, so much so that World Animal Protection recently dropped our rating to a C.

Our government is being taken to court next month over such rodeos. These were banned in the UK in 1934.

Lynn Charlton, Spokesperson, Anti-Rodeo Action NZ.