Branding and Green Grass

This time of year is busy for farmers.  Most have finished up calving and are ready to get the cows to pasture.  For the past few months, many producers have had their cows kept close to home to make things easier for calving time.  Now, it is time to take the ladies to greener pastures for the summer.

Before cows go to pasture, a few tasks must be completed.  Calves are typically vaccinated to help keep them healthy and many are branded.  Some producers brand their calves the first year they go to the pasture with their mothers, while others wait until they are a little older. 

There are different types of branding that serve different purposes.  My family uses both hot branding and freeze branding on our operation.  

We use freeze branding to number our animals.  It is done using a branding iron that is frozen using dry ice and liquid nitrogen or alcohol.  Once the irons are cold, they are pressed onto the desired location for 30-60 seconds.  This type of branding kills the color follicle of the hair.  Although the hair will grow back, it will not have any pigment and will be white in appearance.  This method of identification is ideal because it allows for easy ID of the animal during any season and from a distance.  Our cattle also have ear tags that match their brand number; however, tags can be difficult to read.  If an animal is sick or has any reason to be noted, a freeze brand makes identification much easier!

This is a picture that my brother took of one of our bulls. The number brand that you see on his side was done using freeze branding. This practice helps us easily identify the animal.

Hot branding on the other hand, is used to put the farm’s brand on the animal.  Brands are unique to the producer and can help distinguish one farmer’s cattle from another’s.  This is ideal for cattle that will be moved to pasture for a season with little oversight by the farmer.  If a fence is broken and the cows get out, they can easily be identified to who they belong to.  Brands must be registered to the state and approved to be used.

Branding is a quick method to help easily identify and place ownership of an animal.  It is an effective tool for producers to use and can be very beneficial in running their operation.   Once this job is complete, the cows are ready to enjoy their summer on green grass!

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