Branding Basics – Part 2

To register your Corriente, every animal must have either a number brand or an ear tattoo for identification. You may know all about branding, but just in case you don’t, we have some great basic information that will help you get started!  (go to part 1)

Number Branding Cattle What number branding system should I use?

This is one of the more frequent questions asked by those who are just starting to register their corriente cattle. NACA leaves it up to the individual to set up their own number branding system.

The only requirement is:

No two animals registered by the same owner shall have identical number brands within a 20 year period BUT…

  • Animals of different sex may have the same number AND
  • the same number could be used in different locations on different animals. What this means is the number brand on the right hip of cow 115 is unique from the number brand on the left hip of a (different) cow branded with 115.

There are several different systems.

  • Some use a consecutive numbering system, starting with number 1 and using a new number for each animal branded.
  • Some use an odd – even method, where they brand bulls with an odd number and females with an even number (or vice versa).
  • Using the year to indicate the birth year of the animal is often used.
    • If just the last digit is used, animals born in 2015 would be numbered with just the “5” first, e.g., “51”, “52”. Or, the lasts two digits would result in “151”.
    • Some use the year as the last digit e.g., “15”, “25”. Using the last two digits at the end would look like this : “115”, “215”, or “315”.

When numbers get too cumbersome and it is time to start over, the brand location could be changed. For example, if you branded from 001 to 9999 on the left hip, you could start over again with 001 on the right shoulder.

A breeder may use the same number combination or brand on an individual after 20 years. For example, if 501 were used to designate a heifer in 1995, the breeder could again use the number 501 on an animal in 2015. However, each of these “501”s would have to have their own registered name. A breeder cannot use the same registered name twice.

For some breeders, using a code to identify the sires works well. For example, all offspring from a particular bull could begin with the number 1, and all those from a different bull could start with 8.

In essence, whatever works for you is what you should use. But it is a good idea to give it considerable thought so you really do have a system. It will save you lots of time and effort in the years to come.

Brand Location

In some western states, a brand location is assigned when your brand is issued. If you are allowed to choose your location, you may want to consider the following tips.

The Shoulder provides a nice flat surface for branding and is easy to reach if you are using a calf table or squeeze chute. A shoulder brand can be tricky if you are flanking your calves….the flanker on the front end must stay out of the way of the hot iron while maintaining a firm grip on the calf. A shoulder brand can be difficult to read in the pasture as cows have the tendency to turn away from their pursuers….in this case, the person trying to read the brand.

Rib brands are usually easy to read, especially if the brand has been placed fairly high on the body. Care should be taken in applying a rib brand. Keep the iron level and avoid undue pressure.

The Hip brand is a favorite. The flat surface and slightly thicker hide at the hip makes it easiest to apply. Hip brands have an added advantage if your cow turns away and shows you “her best side” you should have a clear shot at reading her brand.