The 2023 NFR tie-down roping calves have been sorted into three pens of 20, based on size.
According to Shane Hanchey, world champion and current PRCA tie-down roping event director, the calves—owned by Jeff Yates and Lanham Mangold—weigh 243 pounds as an average and are divided into a big, medium and small pen.
“We really have just two medium pens, I would say, but we do categorize them as big, medium and small,” Hanchey said. “The big pen this year is big, there’s no doubt about it, but they should be plenty good for us to tie fast. The medium calves are probably our best set of calves, like they are every year; those will probably be the calves that we rope four times. The small calves will be like our TV pen. There’ll be a lot of calves that the guys can kind of show out on.”
NFR calf preparation
Fourteen of the 15 NFR qualifiers got together at Hanchey’s house in Carmine, Texas, to prepare the calves. This means they were ran and tied prior to heading to Las Vegas to teach them a pattern to help them stay in optimal shape during the Finals.
“We follow the guidelines provided for us by the NFRC, which is the NFR ground rules, pretty much,” Hanchey explained. “It states that we put three tie-down runs on them and two breakaway runs, and then tie them out of the chute prior to getting here. We go through about 150 calves to cull down to 75 that are good enough to come out here. Once they get out here, they go from 75 to 60 after [running them through].”
After the 75 head arrived in Sin City, the Top 15 ran the calves through and tied them from the chute Monday, Dec. 5, to cut the herd down to the final 60 calves.
“They let us put the barrier up and put the neck rope on, and we breakaway each calf one time, so we rope 75 calves once,” Hanchey said. “Then we come back and tie them, and when we tied them we flanked them twice and tied them twice; these calves have been sitting out here for a week, so they’re kind of rusty, too. We knock some of the rust off and see how they work.”
Calves are kept or culled based on certain characteristics or manner.
“When we get here and we have that group of 75, we’re wanting to get the calves that just aren’t very friendly and don’t take the tie, off the herd right at the beginning,” Hanchey said. “After we get our herd of 60, we can go through with kind of a finer-toothed comb and really put these calves into three sets of 20 to make our overall herd.”
Yates and Mangold last had the NFR tie-down calves in 2021, and Hanchey sees some similarity between that herd and this year’s.
“I’d say they’re pretty similar to when Jeff and Lanham have had it in the past,” Hanchey said. “I think the last time Jeff and Lanham had it was 2021, and 2020 and 2019 before that as well. I really think these calves match up similar to a lot of the calves in 2021, and there were a lot of fast times that week.”