Cattle branding demonstration well attended

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Hot branding a way to deter theft Democrat Photo/Melonie Roberts Hot branding cattle is one way of deterring thefts, according to Bailey Moore, of Mt. Vernon. The hot brand process burns away hair and leaves an imprint on the calf's hip, which will remain a visible scar and identifies the animal's owner. A branding demonstration was held on March 26 at the Jackie Moore Ranch, located north of Mt. Vernon. Over 200 spectators were on hand to learn about hot brand and freeze brand techniques at the demonstration. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, University of Missouri Extension, the Moore Ranch Crew and Southwest Missouri Cattleman's Association sponsored the event.

Over 200 farmers from southwest Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma attended a branding demonstration held at the Jackie Moore Ranch, located north of Mt. Vernon on Highway 39. The demonstration, held March 26, was sponsored by the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, the University of Missouri Extension, the Moore Ranch Crew and the Southwest Missouri Cattleman's Association.

Demonstrations included both hot and cold branding techniques, and representatives said branding is a good way to deter cattle theft.

"I brand my cattle, but I also put ear tags with my name, address and phone number on my cattle," Moore said. "That is their return address if they should wander into another field or go running down the highway."

Moore said ear tags can be removed, but branding serves a two-fold purpose.

"The brand serves as notification to feedlots when your cow comes in with another herd," Moore said. "We had a steer disappear several months back, and we were called by the feedlot letting us know he was there. He'd been gone about eight months.

"Secondly, that brand is your reputation," Moore continued. "Feedlots recognize your brand and if they like your cattle, will make sure to buy them again."

Glenn and Kris Callison, of Verona, demonstrated how to shave a calf in preparation of cold branding, which uses a mix of dry ice and 99 percent alcohol to freeze the skin with a permanent mark.

"When the hair grows back in, it will be white, which shows up well on red and black cattle," Kris said. "The brand doesn't go away. If someone were to steal the cow, they would have to alter the brand."

That would take time. Kris said it takes several days for the swelling and scabbing to heal and several weeks for the hair to start growing back over the brand. The brand is immediately identifiable after branding and remains readable for three to five years.

The hot branding demonstration was less time-consuming as the calf's hair didn't need to be shaved for the process. Bailey Moore took a hot iron and placed it directly on the calf's flank for several seconds, burning away the hair and imprinting the brand on the animal's hip.

"It's a simple process," Bailey said.

Cattle producers discussed the price difference in hides that had been cold branded compared to hot branding.

"I've been branding a long time," Jackie added. "Since I've been branding, I've not had any cattle stolen."

Although Missouri doesn't have a branding inspector at local feedlots, workers recognize frequent customers and their brands.

"I believe branding does act as a deterrent to cattle theft," Jackie said. "I would urge you to implement the tools you have to deter thefts."

"This demonstration will hopefully give cattle farmers some ideas on how to deter theft," said Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. "Branding is also a way to help in the recovery of stolen cattle."

Eldon Cole, University of Missouri livestock specialist recommends cattle producers take photos of their cattle and keep with other records for positive identification.

Other tips include:

* Alternate feeding times.

* Owners should make sure certain neighbors and law enforcement are aware when they are going to be away for extended periods of time.

* Do not pen animals overnight in areas accessible from roads. If unavoidable, check on animals during the night.

* Make daily checks on livestock and report missing animals immediately to law enforcement officials.

* Keep corrals lighted when penning animals overnight.

* Keep gates chained and locked.

Brands must be registered with the Missouri Department of Agriculture. More information on Missouri branding law is available at

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