The History of Branding
With thousands of cattle across hundreds of ranches nationwide, it’s hard to keep track of them all.
That’s why branding has been around for thousands of years, dating back to 2,700 BC by the Egyptians.
Branding is a technique used to identify the owner of livestock.
In western states in particularly, cattle can graze on public lands and can easily get mixed with other herds, making branding extremely important for identification. Each owner has their own unique design that is seared onto the cow’s hip area with a hot iron. The brand will last for the livestock’s entire life.
The earliest known branding in North America began in Mexico in the early 1500’s.
It traveled with the settlers who arrived in Texas in the 1820’s and has been around ever since. However, ranchers have gotten more creative with identification and branding techniques. Instead of the normal hot iron, ranchers have incorporated electricity to the branding iron or even using a freeze brand. Freeze branding uses liquid nitrogen or denatured alcohol and dry ice to kill pigment producing cells, which causes hair to grow back as white. This technique is less painful to the cattle and doesn’t cause any long-term harm. Freeze branding is also larger and clearer to read as opposed to its counter options.
In addition to branding, ranchers and livestock owners have adapted other successful identification methods beyond branding.
The most common is ear tags followed by tattoos. Ear tags are very affordable and easy to apply, but are less reliable than branding due to them falling off with movement or being replaced by thieves.
No matter which method you choose, being able to easily identify a cow’s owner is very important to your ranch operation, so choose wisely.
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