Branding Iron

Blaine Northrop, Chief Brand Inspector


It’s finally May .  I had a person tell me the other day that January lasted 95 days this year .  It sure felt like it .  Along with May comes branding time for many .  You probably wouldn’t believe the number of calves that were misbranded last year .  I hope we don’t run into the branding wrecks that happened in 2018 .  
In one instance, a guy’s calf cradle broke, so he borrowed the neighbors’ cradle .  Not paying attention, he didn’t realize that the table turned the opposite direction as his, and he branded all his calves on the wrong side .
Another guy branded all his cattle on the side he has his brand registered, but in the wrong location .  Another producer branded all his cattle with his brand upside down .  
And then there are the normal excuses: “Well, I guess we might have gotten into the beer coolers a little too soon . ” Or, “I guess I forgot the location of my brand . ”
I still remember the time I inspected some calves in the fall and about one-third of them were branded wrong .  I knew the producer well, so I asked him how the heck his cattle got branded wrong .  He too blamed the messed-up branding on the beer cooler .  
People don’t realize the headaches misbranding causes at shipping time .  Sometimes, the brands that are applied wrong are recorded to other producers in the state .  This causes the producer’s checks to be held at the markets or at the scales until proof of ownership is established .  
We can usually work things through with our producers to get things straight, but, sometimes, that takes weeks .  Our deputy inspectors and I put a lot of miles on last year inspecting calves that were misbranded at farms and ranches .  I encourage all producers to brand their cattle and keep an eye on the branding crew until all the calves are finished .  Have a safe branding season .