Media Releases

Royal Manitoba Winter Fair Events Violate Animal Cruelty Laws

WINNIPEG—The Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) and national animal law organization Animal Justice are calling on the organizers of the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and law enforcement authorities to cancel planned calf scramble and sheep wrangling events at this year’s event. The groups say the calf scramble and sheep wrangling, or “mutton busting”, events likely violate Manitoba’s Animal Care Act and must not be allowed to proceed.

The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair is being held in Brandon from March 25-30, 2024. In past years, the event included pig and calf scrambles, where young animals are chased and wrestled. After the WHS and Animal Justice contacted law enforcement authorities in 2022, and hundreds of concerned citizens wrote in to call on Fair organizers to cancel the cruel events, the Fair cancelled its pig and calf scrambles, replacing them with fun and humane events for children.

The Fair left animal scramble events out of its lineup for 2023, but brought them back in 2024, rebranded as a “barnyard challenge featuring calves” (calf scramble) and “sheep wrangling” (mutton busting). The rules have not changed.

The calf scramble involves 15-21 year olds chasing and grabbing terrified calves by their tails, necks, or bodies in order to grab onto a calf and remove a halter from the animal’s neck. The mutton busting involves 5-8 year olds being placed upon the backs of sheep, clinging to their wool, heads, and ears as the frightened animals try to free themselves.

“Slapping a new name on these outdated events does nothing to protect animals from cruelty,” said Brittany Semeniuk, animal welfare specialist with the WHS. “Calf scrambles and sheep wrangling are exploitative events that cause juvenile animals to experience fear and distress as they’re chased around a brightly lit, unfamiliar arena. These scrambles are unnecessarily cruel, and are increasingly out of step with the values of Manitobans. It is discouraging that the children and youth involved in these events are being taught that it is okay to cause distress to farmed animals solely for entertainment purposes.”

Because of concerns about animal welfare, fairs in Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have canceled their animal scrambles. Mutton busting events have even been banned in some American jurisdictions.

The Winnipeg Humane Society and Animal Justice have the support of the Brandon Humane Society, which has operated in Brandon since 1946.

“Federal and provincial laws are clear: It’s illegal to cause distress and suffering to animals in the name of entertainment,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, Winnipeg-based lawyer and director of legal advocacy with Animal Justice. “Calf scrambles and sheep wrangling are not exempt from our animal cruelty laws. If the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair chooses to go ahead with these cruel events, it is our expectation that the Fair’s organizers and the owners of the animals involved will be held to account for any violations of the Animal Care Act.”

The Winnipeg Humane Society and Animal Justice are calling on members of the public to reach out to the organizers of the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and encourage them to cancel the planned scramble events.



Kaitlyn Mitchell
Director of Legal Advocacy, Animal Justice
[email protected]

Carly Peters
Director of Communications and Marketing
Winnipeg Humane Society
[email protected]

Tracy Munn
Director, Brandon Humane Society