Raising and Nurturing of the Bull

The process of bull raising is a very meticulous procedure, in which certain precautions and measures have to be taken to ensure that the bull is in optimal condition and shape through its first few years of life.  At a young age, the owner has to decide whether they believe the bull has the right characteristics of a ‘fighting bull’. Part of the reason why this is done so early is because the owner must train the bull both mentally and physically to become a fighter.

Bulls by nature are not very aggressive and can be easily domesticated; so from an early age the owner must take precautionary measures when handling the bull, because the less interaction they receive from their trainer, the more optimally prepared they will be. In most cases, the bull lives outdoors, without a high level of physical activity or contact with human beings, so that the animal becomes extremely aggressive when they enter the arena and begin to fight, because of the overwhelming and unfamiliar territory.

The beginning sequence of a bullfight in Seville, Spain

Once the owner determines that the bull is ready to compete in the arena, the animal must undergo a series of tests to ensure that the bull is both brave and aggressive enough to put on an entertaining show for the fights spectators.

The first round of ‘bull bravery testing’ is done at approximately two years of age, because the bulls are too young at one year old and by three years old, the bull is potentially too strong and too dangerous to compete.

Baby bull doing 'bull bravery test'

In general, bulls are not very active animals, so being in a confined space with little physical activity wouldn’t technically be considered inhumane. But it can be argued that by putting a bull into an arena and provoking them to run and chase the toreros can be considered inhumane, as it is forcing the bull to partake in an action they are not naturally inclined to do.

  • A bulls body make-up is not compatible with them being active for long periods of time
  • A bull can run in short spurts of energy, but their muscle fibres cannot handle prolonged activities resulting in an accumulation of lactate within the blood stream
  • In the ring, fatigue may quickly develop in their muscles due to their low oxidative capacity
  • When the glycogen (an energy-release pathway) depletes from the animals muscles, it causes a drastic decrease in the amount of energy the bull will have during the fight
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