Livestock branding is an age-old technique that dates back to ancient Egypt and Rome, where brands were used to signify ownership. Europe adopted the practice during the Middle Ages and the technique was later imported to the Americas by Spanish cowboys.
Creating A Brand
Back in the day, ranchers would record brands in a book they carried in their pockets. As brands became more widely used, laws were passed requiring registration and inspection. Today, Utah ranchers can either design their own unique brand or choose one from a master catalogue provided by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food — the department that regulates brands in the state.
Breaking Down The Brand
Brands contain two or more symbols and can be placed on six different areas of the animal: the left hip, left ribs or left shoulder and the right hip, right ribs or right shoulder. Different ranchers may use the same brand, so long as the brand is not placed in the same location.
As technology evolves, branding via hot iron is used less and less. Freeze branding, universally considered more humane, is a technique that removes pigmentation from hair using liquid nitrogen. With this technique, the hair typically grows back white, which is more visible and less injurious, but also more expensive than old-school branding irons.