As cattle farmers we worry about our cattle getting in the hands of the wrong people and it is not just the economic loss of that animal but it is the fact that I work hard to keep them safe and meet all of their needs and would feel as though we failed them by not keeping them out of the hands of criminals. Pretty sure a person with no respect of the owner of the livestock will have little to no respect for the animal as well. We use tags to help ID our cattle as our own but a thief can run the cow through a chute, remove my tag and replace it with a different color, number, or style of tag and I would never know they had my cow unless there was some permanent mark on the animal. Cattle theft is not just taking of the cattle and reselling them for the money. It also includes "borrowing" the neighbors cow for a few years selling or keeping her calves and then returning her after she is past her prime productive years. That is why it is so important to be able to know the difference between my cows and all of my neighbors cows. Between all of our pastures and the main home location we have 14 + neighbors with cows bordering our fence lines. All of them have primarily black cows (a couple of them may have a couple reds or Charolais cross cows) but for the most part the vast majority of them look very similar to our herd. The only distinct difference is the tags in their ears (which can and do fall out) and the brands on their hips.
|Our OO7 cow was branded when she was a calf with our brand 2 years ago. At 15 feet away you can clearly read the "Spear Y" brand on her right hip.|
Brands themselves are numbers, letters, characters, or combinations of the 3 that are arranged together in a specific order. They are read from top to bottom (like ours), left to right, or if circular outside to inside. Usually farmers pick their brand to have some significant meaning about the family or ranch, their innitials, the abreviation of ranch name, spouces innitials, etc. Our brand doesn't have any significant meaning. When we where looking for a brand we picked 1 off the list of brands for sale through the Nebraska Brand Committe. We chose it because we could put it on the same side as the brand that belongs to the guy we lease our cows from, it looked like it would not smear or "blotch" (be easy to apply and read later), and it looked "neat". We have a brand registered with the State Brand Committee and have a specific place on the animal our brand can be place for that brand to represent us. We can put our brand on the right side of the animal on the shoulder, rib or hip. Nobody else in the state has the same brand that can be located in the same locations on the animal.
A perfect example of the importance of a permanent identification that can be easily read in a large pasture situation is the mystery bull we found in a pasture a few years ago. It was the first year we rented the pasture, there are 6 other cattle owners that boarder this pasture and we had not gotten to know who they were yet. I went out to check cows and discovered I had a bull that didn't belong to us. He was not very nice and wouldn't let me get to close in fact he was down right pissed off. I was able to take pictures of the brand on him. When I got back to the house a quick search on the states brand website told me who he belonged to and the town the gentleman was from. Another quick search on google and I had the guy's phone number. Within not much time I could ID who the bull belonged to, get his contact info, and let him know I had his bull. If that bull had no identification on him I would not have know which of the 6 pastures he needed to be returned to and chances are would have put him in the wrong pasture.
|This heifer calf was branded about 2 weeks before the picture was taken. From about 30 feet even on small calves our brand "Spear Y" is clearly readable! She doesn't even notice it is there any more.|