Rodeo stock contractors supply all the animals that you see at rodeo competitions.
They supply the animals for events like steer roping and calf wrestling.
When the rodeo is finished, contractors take the animals back to the ranch
until the next rodeo.
It is rare that a single stock contractor supplies horses, calves and bulls.
Usually, a different contractor brings in each group of animal.
They often raise their own cattle or horses. Besides taking care of the
stock itself, contractors also have to spend a little time getting rodeo contracts.
"Probably one of the most important things is to know livestock a little
bit," says Jim Sutton. His family has been raising and selling stock for five
generations. "And then it's just economics again. Everything's got to fall
together and work. It's a pretty tough racket."
One of the biggest parts of the work is keeping stock strong and healthy.
"Basically, they are sort of athletes and they have to be trained to do what
they do," says Karen Foster. She is a rodeo stock contractor.
Keeping animals healthy means that a contractor will have to be able to
perform routine medical tasks. Animals occasionally have to be vaccinated
or treated for mild illnesses.
Good business practices are also essential. Rodeo stock contractors often
produce the rodeos they supply, which adds to their workload.
You have to know a lot about raising farm animals and about working on
a farm in general to be a stock contractor. Many people in the field learn
this from having been raised on farms and working around livestock.
Contractors do a lot of traveling. The farm work is, of course, done on
a farm. Rodeos occasionally come to the city -- the biggest one in the U.S.
is in Las Vegas -- but contractors typically live in rural communities.
Ranching is a solitary life. Most stock contractors are self-employed.
Stock contractors often break livestock. This makes it particularly physically
demanding work and unsuitable for people with special needs.