By Tucker Brown
The branding of cattle dates back many years ago. It was the Spanish who brought the practice of branding cattle to the Americas in the 16th century. Its importance lied in the fact that it allows ranchers to easily identify their livestock and prevent theft. In the early days of the American West, cattle rustling was a common occurrence. Cowboys would round up cattle from different herds and brand them with their own mark. By branding their cattle, ranchers could quickly identify which animals belonged to them and take legal action against those who stole them.
Over time, branding has become an important part of the identity of many ranches and livestock producers. A unique brand can help distinguish one ranch's cattle from another's and can even become a symbol of quality and tradition. Branding is also a time that ranches will administer modern animal health technologies. Vaccinations help cattle build their immune system to fend off some of the deadliest cattle diseases.
There are generally two different ways to brand. The more popular is fire brand, or the freeze brand, which is what we use. The fire brand uses a hot iron and only takes a second or two to finish the job. A freeze brand uses a cold iron that freezes the hide and kills the pigment producing cells. This process takes 55 seconds of contact with the iron. This makes the cattle’s hair come back white, which is easy to see against black and red-hided animals. We decided to take the time to do the freeze brands. We really like how sharp the brands look. Not all our cattle earn the brand, but only the ones that fit the high-quality genetics and appearance that we strive for.
The R.A. Brown Ranch is a family business and has been since 1895. For 6 generations, we have worked to build our brand that customers know and trust. We continue to look forward and challenge boundaries to help us produce better cattle and horses. As we look forward to the 7th generation, we make decisions to keep the ranch in the family and the family in the ranch.