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Why Do We Brand Cattle?

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

Most ranches will use colored ear tags to give a cow a written number to differentiate their cattle from their neighbors. Unfortunately, some cows lose their ear tags every year.

Our family brand on the barn

Something about a plastic ear tag not being able to keep up with a cow butting heads with another cow, rubbing on a scratchy cedar tree, crawling through barbed wire fence, or heck maybe cows cut them out on their own! Somehow, somewhere a few cows every year lose their ear tags. Having no ear tag makes it hard to identify which animal is yours and which is your neighbor's. Also, there is the unfortunate truth that ear tags only come in so many colors so inevitably you'll eventually have the same color ear tag as a neighboring rancher. So a more permanent solution to an ear tag is needed. A brand is just the thing.


A brand is a unique mark or markings that are placed on an animal in a specific location with a hot iron. For example, our brand is a "A-" on the right side of the animal. This brand is unique to our family and has been passed down from generation to generation. Most neighbors in the area know our brand just as we know most of our neighbors' brands. If we have a cow that jumps the fence and gets into a neighbor's pasture, they know right away who she belongs to.


This identification is especially important when it comes to human safety. Often times cattle get out onto a rural gravel road or even a state highway. It's at times like this it is imperative to have a brand on the cattle for quick identification of the animals owner. Cattle on the side of the road or on the road are a major threat drivers. The longer it takes the local authorities

to identify the animals owner, the great the risk of an accident.


There's also the case of cattle theft, yes unfortunately that's still a concern. Without a brand on an animal there is not really any way to prove that an animal is yours. A brand makes cattle theft much more difficult.


Our brand, the "A-", pronounced "A bar," has been in the family for many years. It helps us to identify our cattle, helps our neighbors identify our cattle, and helps protect our livestock from being stolen.

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I am a cheapskate at heart or rather very frugal with how I spend our money. It comes with the territory of being in rural America. I love to save money and I love to help someone else do the same.