Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thinking About Branding Cattle

In Oklahoma, branding livestock isn't required by law and the way I read the branding laws registering your brand isn't even required if you choose to brand your livestock.  But, since most sheriffs departments carry copies of the brand registry it makes it a whole lot easier to track down and identify the rightful owners of livestock if a brand is registered.

I've never branded any of my cattle, I usually just use ear tags for the cows and calves so I can tell mine from the neighbors if they ever happened to get out, although the bulls have freeze brands that are basically just ID numbers.   For whatever reason, I've always sort of associated branding with much larger cattle operations that have hundreds of cattle, or small hobby-type farms with a few head of cattle that call their ten acre pasture a "ranch" (not that there's anything wrong with that).   Since I'm somewhere in the middle and not really a hobby operation or a larger scale ranch, I never really saw the need for branding.

But, with the price of cattle going up as high as it has recently there have been more and more stories about cattle being stolen, and since I have a lot of money just walking around my pastures relatively unprotected, I've been thinking more and more about branding some of my cattle in the future. 

I don't see the point of going to the trouble of branding without registering the brand, and before you can register a brand you have to come up with an actual brand design, branding location, and brand name.  I have an old brand that Grandpa used to use that I thought about registering years ago, but I always assumed that since it was a pretty simple design that someone would have already registered it so I never really got past the thinking about it stage.  But after looking through the Brand Registry, I'm pretty sure that I'd be able to register this brand design, which is a little surprising.

The only thing left is to decide what it's proper description should be because I've had different people claim it should have different names.  I've always thought it was called the Flying M, but most Flying M brands I've seen don't look like this brand. 

Any ideas or suggestions?

15 comments:

  1. In our state, you must brand cattle (and horses) by law, and every operation that has cattle has a registered brand. It'd be hard to sell cattle without a registered brand.

    This doesn't really have wings, so I wouldn't call it a "flying M". I'd probably call it something like J M Reverse J, but I'll check with somebody more adopt at what brands are called and see what they say.

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    1. Until looking at the photo, I never really noticed that it looks like there are a couple of J's in there along with the M, but there weren't any J's in either Grandpa's or anybody else's names in the family.

      I was also thinking that it might be called a Running M, although most Running M brands are more rounded in the M part.

      All I really need is to decide on a brand description for it to be registered.

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    2. It could even be J V reverse J, although that likely wasn't the original intent.

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    3. It turns out that I was wrong about there being no J's in the family. My great-great-grandfather was John which could possibly be the reason there is a J M J in the brand.

      He lived across the road from the farm I'm farming now and was about 75 years old when he died sometime around 1926. If I'm remembering it right, he immigrated from Germany sometime in the 1880's, was a farmer, and I know that he had cattle so it's possible that the brand was originally his brand. Grandpa could have been using it simply because it was his grandfather's brand and it had a M in it.

      Since there's no one that really knows the whole story behind the brand, I think that calling it the J M reverse J after great-great-grandpa John is as good a story as any other story.

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  2. Nice single iron brand by the way. Should be easy to apply.

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    1. After looking through the brand registry, I'd be surprised if some registered brands were even recognizable as anything but a big blotch as complicated as they were.

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    2. In recent years there's been a lot of vanity brands that really can't be applied. People register them, but they are likely not using them, or at least not using them much.

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  3. I happened to see there is a JMJ Financial with a logo that looks very similar to your brand.

    Cattle rustling is becoming a big business up here. Just in our area alone, there have been a dozen calves stolen already this spring. I'm guessing it is all one person since it doesn't happen on this scale every year. I would think that there would probably be easier technology than to catch and brand cattle, like injectable RFID tads. I don't know the cost of them so it may be too expensive until adopted in mass by cattlemen everywhere and I'm not sure what a meatpacking plant might feel about foreign objects in cows.

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    1. There are some RFID ear tags available that are used for premises registration, or source and age verification. They are basically buttons about an inch in diameter that go in just like an ordinary ear tag, and they they can be read with a handheld reader or from some sort of fixed reader as the cattle go through a chute.

      They can't really be used as proof of ownership because they can fall out, they can be easily removed, or even swapped between cattle. Add in the way cattle can change hands multiple times over their lifespan and the need to update all the RFID data each time and using RFID might not be a very practical way to ID cattle.

      Part of the theft deterrent of a brand is that it's visible to the thief, so he knows he's more likely to get caught. An injectable RFID wouldn't be visible to the thief, so you'd have to hope that it would show up somewhere down the line whenever it was sold.

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    2. Here, cattle can't be sold without the brand's owner participating in the sale. When cattle have been sold and branded more than once that's not true, of course, but the most recent brand's holder must be in on the transfer.

      Law enforcement officers can and will check brands on livestock if they stop something that's hauling them as well.

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    3. I always thought that the mandatory branding laws in states like WY had something to do with the amount of grazing on public lands and federal agency's requirements for proper livestock owner ID for the grazing leases.

      I have some cows that have the brands of the previous owners and whenever I sell a cull cow that's branded at the stockyards they always note on the bill that the brand inspector noted the brand before it was sold. I assume that the brands and cattle descriptions are compared against any reported stolen cattle to track down those stolen cattle. But any unbranded cattle don't get inspected, so there's not much that law enforcement can do to help if your unbranded cattle are stolen (I guess it could be described as it's your responsibility to lock up your property, and don't complain if your property is stolen if you didn't lock it up).

      A few years ago when cattle prices started going up, law enforcement was supposedly stopping people pulling stock trailers at odd times of the day (like the middle of the night) and taking down tag numbers, etc., trying to discourage cattle thieves.

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    4. "I always thought that the mandatory branding laws in states like WY had something to do with the amount of grazing on public lands and federal agency's requirements for proper livestock owner ID for the grazing leases."

      No, not really. Or not directly

      There's no Federal requirement, its a state one. And as herds don't mix on the Federal domain (though the lease system the Federal lands are normally leased to more than one user), it'd be unusual to have hers mix. Rather, it goes back to the early history of the state when that was really the only means to tell whose cows where whose.

      Now, at that time, when there was more open range and cattle would mix, and then be sorted out in the big spring roundups, brands were necessary to tell who owned what cattle. So to that extent, you are correct. But that open range type system hasn't existed for well over a century. All livestock (cattle horse and sheep), must still be branded here by law however. Sheep, however, wear paint brands, and therefore only wear brands on a somewhat temporary basis.

      I should note that even though the law requires it, many dispense with branding very small herds, or single animal examples.

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  4. A brand somewhat like this is a registered brand in Wyoming, listed under the J's, FWIW.

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    1. Looking through the brand registry, it's funny how some brands won't have any of the initials of the brand owner at all. I saw some brands that were something like JM where the person it was registered to didn't have either a J or a M in their name at all.

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    2. Probably most brands here don't reflect the name or the identify of the owners, particularly as most of them are fairly old. We have a host of brands ourselves, but only two are the initials of the holders, and those are brands we acquired when the original registrants let them go. Our oldest brand is a number, that number being the last two digits of its year of registration.

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