A string of cattle thefts across Southwest Missouri in early 2013 prompted a meeting in the area for hundreds of cattle producers to learn more about cattle branding.

The demonstration hosted by Jackie Moore Ranch provided an opportunity for the University of Missouri Extension office in Lawrence County, the Southwest Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and area sheriffs’ departments to address area producers.

According to the Joplin Globe, about 200 cattle have been stolen from the area in the past two years valued at roughly $200,000. Brad DeLay, sheriff of Lawrence County, said the trend of cattle thefts early this year have tapered off. The high volume of thefts spurred conversations among area law enforcement and those in the cattle industry who were looking to prevent future thefts and catch those responsible.

The meeting Tuesday reviewed the types of cattle branding. Delay said the increased awareness and branding won’t end rustling, but a thief will think twice about stealing animals if he notices a brand.

Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension specialist, told the Joplin Globe a cattle brand is a good method to settle ownership since tattoos can be removed and ear tags can be cut away.

“There is not a lot of enforcement in Missouri brand law. But a brand is like a return address. You might get them back, and you might not.”