Cattle theft and brands

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The most recent cattle theft was early in May in Barry county where 13 or 14 head were taken.

Don’t let your guard down and not keep close tabs on your cattle. Also, note suspicious vehicles and persons in your neighborhood who seem interested in cattle along the road. Of course unless they’re in a 2000, reddish, Ford Taurus, which could be me. I’ve been known to drive slowly by pastures and do some windshield evaluation of cattle, pastures, weeds, bale rings, mineral feeders, etc. I’ve even had my camera out taking pictures on occasion.

The interest in branding and brand registration has stepped up in the last month. If you’re thinking about designing a brand I suggest you stop by our office or a county recorder’s office and look through the 2010 brand registration book for ideas. You may also go online to:

There are lots of brands to browse over and many of them are not very good. It is easy to try and put too many characters or designs in a brand. Simplicity tends to make a clearer, more readable brand. Many of the alphabet letters have angles that result in blurred brands unless the corners or angles are rounded. There’s a love to put characters inside a box, triangle or circle, but that may also crowd an area with too much heat which results in a big blurry scar. If you make it large, say 5 inches, you might be okay.

Other ideas, instead of a circle consider a half-circle or quarter-circle above or below a character. Use lines, bars, rafters, slashes and back slashes either above, below, before or after a character. Even something as simple as a dot can be incorporated into a very legible brand.

Brands are to be at least 3 inches in diameter. Brands can be registered in 6 different locations, shoulder, ribs or hip on either side of the body. The hip is the preferred location due to a bigger muscle, flatter area and usually easier to reach in a squeeze chute. The usual age to brand is around 3 months. This small calf doesn’t fit very well in a typical squeeze chute for branding thus a tilt table could be the answer.

Brands do grow, especially when applied to young stock. Some folks use a 2 inch or so brand on the young calves as it will be a 3 inch brand before long. Of course, a 2 inch brand may be difficult to get a clear brand with if the brand is too complex. According to the brand law the brand must meet the 3 inch diameter at the time of application.

There are concerns by some that brands may reduce the value of the animal due to hide damage. The most recent beef quality audit shows the discount per animal is only $.74. Considering the value of theft protection and marketing promotion I’d say they outweigh the $.74 risk. Hot iron brands result in more damage to the hide than freeze brands but the latter can also inflict visible hide damage.

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Texas  |  May, 28, 2013 at 09:25 AM

If we had mandatory individual ID, selling a stolen animal would become very difficult. The animal's unique number would be registered and anyone cutting out the number and putting in new numbers would have to have cows or would become immediately suspect. A thief with cows would have to plan in advance to get extra numbers and thieves are not planners. The registration of ID numbers would also stop folks like Eastern Livestock from getting title to cattle for which they had not paid. Mandatory ID has many benefits to legitimate cattlemen. It is time for all industry associations to start demanding it.

Ohio  |  May, 28, 2013 at 01:43 PM

Ridiculous. Mandatory ID won't solve this. Thief cuts out tag, big deal. Mandatory ID for cattle is NOT permanent. 12 seconds with a knife and ID is GONE! Mandatory ID isn't even working in Australia where it is strenuously enforced. Brand your cows. Can't cut out a brand. This has worked since Pharaoh was in charge of Egypt, and will continue to work.

Missouri  |  May, 31, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Yeah, I don't want any official animal identification system screwing me up. I can mess with a brand and right now I can cut out an eartag so I do a pretty nice business in rounding up strays and such. If I had to show proof of ownership or if I would be arrested and fined for tampering with tags that would cut into my business. Why would you want to work such hardship on my family? You only lose a few animals once in a while, so what's the big deal? Wealth redistribution is the true American way, isn't it?

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