ABBI stock contractors take the best possible care of their animal athletes. Between the ages of 2 and 4 is when a bucking bull can win the majority of his career earnings competing at Futurity and Classic events. Bulls can win as much as half a million dollars while bucking at ABBI events over these three key years.
Stock contractors not only do everything they can to care for these young bulls while they are competing, but they also do everything they can to ensure their health and longevity — both in the arena and as a breeding bull later in life.
Here are the key elements ABBI stock contractors focus on:
Animals are fed high-protein, specially formulated grain rations. These feeds can include such supplemental elements as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotic components. Grain is fed at approximately 1 percent of a bull’s body weight. Other common, and frequently fed supplements, include those geared toward joint health, maintenance and support as well as electrolyte additives. In addition to grain, another 1 percent of a bull’s body weight is fed to them in the form of top-end hay which is often lab-tested for quality.
Exercise and Conditioning
Young bulls are usually wild and rambunctious and spend a lot of time sparring and playing with other bulls their age, which is generally all that is required to keep them in excellent physical condition. Young bulls are generally much flightier in general, so everywhere they move it’s often at a fast pace and adrenaline inspired. Adrenaline-based exercise is very valuable in hardening lean muscle. Older, settled bulls may require a little more creativity to keep them fit as they relax and get comfortable with a bucking lifestyle. From exercising them from horse back or with ATVs, to more progressive methods such as vibration plates and swimming (like at the Bull Pool) much effort and contemplation is put into keeping bulls physically ready for performance. Another favorite form of self-exercise comes in the form of dirt or sand piles. Some owners swear by it and this method was a favorite of Bushwacker’s. Bulls expend much effort climbing deep piles of sand and digging and tossing dirt onto themselves. This builds strong backs, shoulders and broadens a bull’s neck and chest floor.
Maintenance and Hoof Care
Hoof and horn trimming and maintenance are very important aspects of managing a bucker and his performance. Most bulls receive regular hoof care to keep their four feet and eight toes perfectly balanced, shaped and healthy. Horns are also maintained on a regular basis — ABBI rules dictate they be kept dull and no smaller than a 50-cent piece to avoid injury to themselves, other bulls, cowboys and ABBI staff working the pens and chutes at events. Acupuncture treatments, infrared heat technology, chiropractic adjustments and routine vet care are also today’s norm when it comes to keeping these bovine athletes at their best.
Most contractors are very particular about travel conditions for their four-legged family members. From well-maintained, clean and well-bedded trailers designed especially for a comfortable ride, to frequent rest stops and safe, secure overnight layover locations across the nation, the welfare of the bucking bull generally takes precedence over that of his handlers. It isn’t unusual for a contractor to leave an ABBI event as late as midnight after he makes sure his bull is comfortable, fed and watered after competing. The next morning, those same stock contractors will be back at the pens and attending to their bulls before they even eat breakfast themselves.
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