Branding Cattle in Colorado


I’ve had some questions about branding cattle, so I thought I would share some facts along with pictures from our recent branding cattle work with weaned calves.

What is a brand for?
A brand is a permanent identification marker. Each ranch or cattle-owner has their own unique brand to identify their cattle.

My state doesn’t brand cattle.
Branding is not required in all states, but it is a State Law in Colorado. You can search by state here. In order to sell an animal in Colorado, it must have a brand. Brand Inspectors must certify that the shipper or seller is the legal owner of the livestock prior to issuing a brand certificate.

Ranchers still brand cattle?
Branding is still the best way to permanently mark your cattle to be able to identify them. Of course, we use ear tags with number and an e-ID (electronic identification), but those seem to fall out all of the time – or someone stealing the cattle could easily cut them off if they were to steal an animal.

Aren’t their more “modern” ways to identify cattle?
There is a lot of great technology out there for permanent identification like retina scanners that scan the animal’s eyes – which are like fingerprints – and are unique to each animal. However, a lot of ranchers and brand inspectors don’t have the technology, and it makes it very difficult to scan through a herd of animals looking for a specific animal. Even though branding is a great tradition on many ranches, I would love the opportunity to use an updated technology that permanently identifies cattle when it becomes available.

Does branding scare the calf?
Once explained to me: cattle don’t know happy or sad, they just know comfort and discomfort. Yes, the cattle are in some discomfort, but just like if we burned our finger on the stove, we would treat it and take some ibuprofen. When we brand, we give the calves vaccinations to keep them healthy and a shot that will help with the discomfort. As soon as we were done branding, we fed the calves and they looked healthy and comfortable – ready to eat!

Thanks for the questions and feel free to ask more! Here are some pictures of our family working cattle…it truly is a “family production”! Feel free to check out more on our Facebook page.


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