Steps in Branding Your Livestock Properly

Branding livestock has been a long-time practice that started in ancient Egypt. It involves using a fire-heated iron or other materials to brand a farm animal. Branding of farm animals is done so that it is easy to identify their owner.

Aside from the conventional hot iron branding, there are many other ways to brand animals. These branding methods include ear tagging, earmarking, ear tattoos, inner lip tattoos, chemical branding, freeze branding, and electronic branding.

If you are going to use the hot iron method, you have to be familiar first with the rules in your state regarding the branding of animals such as the kind of brand to use and the part of the animalís body where the brand will be applied.

Now, you can start branding your farm animals. Here are the procedures you must follow to ensure safety. Remember, you have to be very careful when branding to avoid injury to you or your animals.

1. Get the animal ready for branding. Make sure that the part that will be branded is clean and dry. Branding a damp cattle, for instance may cause scalding or scarring on the hide. Also, you have to remove the hair from area where the brand is going to be placed.

2. Prepare the branding iron. Check the iron before using it on your farm animal. It should be clean and free from scales, sharp edges, and burnt hair. If it needs cleaning, use a steel brush for that purpose. The correct thickness of iron brand to be used depends on the kind of farm animal. For yearlings, you need a 5-inch iron, and for calves, you need a 4-inch iron. Since horses have thin skin, a light iron is enough for branding.

3. Plug it in. Wait for more than a minute for the branding iron to reach the ideal temperature. You can tell if the branding iron is ready to use if its color turns into ash. It is important that the branding iron has the proper temperature so that it will be able to burn and eliminate the hair and exterior layer of the skin.

4. Place the branding iron on the animal. Apply just the right amount of pressure for about 5 to 10 seconds. The correct length of time for applying the iron depends on the animalís breed, its hair cover, temperature of the iron, and weather condition. As a rule of thumb, the branding iron can be removed when the skin surrounding the branded area appears like dark copper. Be careful not to place the iron for a long time; otherwise, the branding area will bleed.

After using your livestock branding iron, you have to maintain it properly and regularly so that you can use it again in the future. Do not forget to clean it with a steel brush to eliminate any residue sticking on it. Good maintenance of the branding iron ensures that the markings on your farm animals will be of great quality.


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