Identifying ownership of farm animals by the means of branding has been carried out for longer than you might think; in fact, the ancient Egyptians used this method of branding with a heated iron or other method.
There are several other ways to brand an animal, apart from the commonly accepted hot iron branding. These include ear tagging or marking, freeze branding, chemical branding, electronic branding and a tattoo on the inner lip.
Different states can have different rules and regulations concerning the branding of animals, and you must be familiar with the rules in your state. The rules can govern the part of the animal’s body on which branding can occur, as well as the type of brand that you are allowed to use.
Safety and the well-being and comfort of your animals should be your main concerns when branding, and these simple tips will ensure a smooth and safe branding process:
1.) The area of the animal that you intend to brand should be free of hair, and clean and dry. You can easily scar or scald the animal’s hide if the animal is damp when you carry out the branding.
2.) Make sure that you use the right type of branding iron, and the type of animal being branded will determine the thickness of the brand that you should use. Before using any brand on an animal, check that it is clean, and has no burnt hair adhering to it, and no sharp edges. A steel brush can be used for cleaning the iron if needed. Calves should generally be branded with a 4-inch iron, while a 5-inch iron should be used to brand a yearling, and a light iron used for the thin skin of horses.
3.) Once you have plugged in your branding iron, it should reach the appropriate temperature for effective branding in about a minute, and once the color turns to ash, you know it is ready to be used. When using the iron, you want to be able to burn the hair and the skin’s outer layer.
4.) You will need to apply the iron to the animal’s skin for between 5 and 10 seconds, depending on the breed of animal, the weather at the time, the amount of hair on the animal, and the iron’s temperature. The skin around the affected area will look like dark copper when it’s time for the iron to be removed from the animal’s skin. The area being branded will bleed if you leave the iron in place for longer than you need to.
As you will need to use your branding iron again at some point, you should make sure you maintain it and keep it in good condition. If you have any residue or hair adhering to it, you should clean your iron with a steel brush. Your goal should be to brand your animals safely and expertly, and following the above tips and keeping your iron in good condition will allow you to achieve that goal.