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Online firesweepranch

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So, we branded for the first time today. Here are some pics. It was not too difficult, some jumped and we had to reapply, but I think they will turn out OK. We branded 11 head total, from 5 year old cows to 6 month old calf.  I will let you know how they turned out in about 4 weeks  ;D
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 01:50:48 PM by firesweepranch »
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Offline knabe

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2012, 01:54:20 PM »
track the picture a and take a pic of that one later.

Offline Boot Jack Bulls

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2012, 03:13:34 AM »
Just a couple of helpful hints since this was your first go at it-1. Soak the area you intend to brand with Windex or something of that nature first. Not sure why it works, but it seems to give the iron better contact with the hide and  help get clear details in the finished brand. 2. There are
recommendations for how long to brand, and I would use them, but also make sure you flick the area with your fingers to make sure it is sufficiently frozen- it should feel almost like cardboard. Finally, since you mentioned doing calves, I would recommend a smaller iron for them. You will be surprised how much that hide will stretch and grow. A standard iron used on a calf can result in a brand that takes up most of the shoulder or hip.

Again, you may or may not already know these things. I wanted to let you in on a few of the tricks we have been using to brand stock for the last 25+ years.
Just another cheesehead who loves cattle!

Offline DL

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2012, 06:20:39 AM »
So, we branded for the first time today. Here are some pics. It was not too difficult, some jumped and we had to reapply, but I think they will turn out OK. We branded 11 head total, from 5 year old cows to 6 month old calf.  I will let you know how they turned out in about 4 weeks  ;D


Just curious - since Missouri does not require branding of cattle for identification and since branding is currently a hot button issue among animal welfare experts, why did you decide to brand?
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Offline JWW

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2012, 08:54:54 AM »
we freeze brand a bit at the clinic - mostly horses and mules but also some cattle - mostly id numbers....
here are our steps:
first put brands in liquid nitrogen for awhile
1. shave the area with a surgical clipper blade - get it very short.
2. rinse the area with high percent alcohol - 90% or 99%
3. place metal brand on area for 45 seconds.

it is very important to have the animal restraint so it doesn't move - the worse thing is not getting the brand in the same spot if they jump and i messes up the brand and the white hair doesn'tcome through as well if you don't get it on there and stay on there for 45 secs.

in about 10 minutes the spot where the brand/number was at should be raised up and swollen and very distinct outlines of them ... then you know you got a good one  8)

especially with calves - use a smaller brand or a 3-4 inch brand will be a foot wide when they are mature cows.


JWW

Online firesweepranch

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2012, 08:58:23 AM »
So, we branded for the first time today. Here are some pics. It was not too difficult, some jumped and we had to reapply, but I think they will turn out OK. We branded 11 head total, from 5 year old cows to 6 month old calf.  I will let you know how they turned out in about 4 weeks  ;D


Just curious - since Missouri does not require branding of cattle for identification and since branding is currently a hot button issue among animal welfare experts, why did you decide to brand?


Good question DL. There have been a BUNCH of cattle thefts within miles of our place over the last few years. That is the main reason. We registered our brand with Missouri so that way IF we get hit, hopefully our cattle can be recovered. Our herd is small, so even a few stolen animals would really hurt. The two thefts that were around us involved less than a dozen animals each! Kind of scares you into branding.
AFA where to put it, we discussed this as a family. Since we show, I did not want it to be obvious like some other ranchers seem to do. That is why we decided non-show side front shoulder. That is probably the least looked at area by a judge, and will not distract from the actual animal. When we ordered the brand, I wish there was more explanation. Our design was hard to get small enough, and we ended up with the one you see. Which, like Boot Jack Bulls explained, is big for calves. We did the first 9 animals at the vet clinic with our vet yesterday. We primarily did cattle that will stay on our place forever (our core breed stock). We tried all kinds of things, and yes BJB, we sprayed the shaved spot with 99% Alcohol to the point of saturation before we applied the brand. We timed each animal and recorded so we can go back and look at the results (our vet said 60 seconds). We will see how they turned out. He has a squeeze chute, and we had a few problems with using it. It has the drop down sides, and sometimes that bar limited access. We had some dry ice left over when we got home, so we brought up two more cows and tried them with our chute, which is what is in the pictures. It has bars that keep the cattle from moving, and the entire side opens up. We had great access, and it seemed easier. My daughter applied the brand while I placed my body against the side of the cow to help limit moving. The "shadowed" one was the second animal we did, and the cow bounced around a bit where she lost original contact and had to reapply. The branded spot was always hard when you tapped it after, and we always saw the indented brand immediately after the brand was removed.
The good thing is, we took notes on each animal, and pictures on the last two, and will note the results when they grow in. I think for the future, we will brand the rest of the herd when we vaccinate later this fall except for babies. I think with the size of our brand, we will wait until they are weaned, earliest, or even yearlings before we brand them. We will have to wait and see. That is why we did the 6 month old, just to see how it fills in and grows with her.
Thanks for the comments and help! Our vet was a huge help at how to apply and what to do when one jumps and you lose contact.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 09:12:40 AM by firesweepranch »
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Offline DL

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2012, 12:07:16 PM »

Makes sense FSR :) In case you are not happy with your results below is the Freeze Branding Bible  ;)  according to Evan Rayl of Iowa...

How to Freeze Brand Cattle By Evan Rayl 12-8-10
In every state west of Iowa, branding is an annual ritual that takes place on virtually every ranch in the spring just before the bulls are put out to pasture. In Iowa, only 4000 brands are registered and worse yet, most are not used, resulting in a haven for cattle thieves. Recently, a farmer was arrested in Southern Iowa, who has admitted to many thefts in the area spread over the past ten years. If you protect your cattle by freeze branding, you greatly reduce the chances of being a victim. Thieves will look for an easier mark.
Since July 1, 1995, freeze brands have been a legal brand in Iowa. Not only are these brands proof of ownership in a court of law, but livestock auctions and other cattle buyers will check ownership carefully if freeze branded cattle are presented to them for sale. Also, if you have cattle get out everyone in the neighborhood will know where they belong. My neighbors would all know who to call if they see a cow with a freeze brand out. In addition, if you also put number brands on, each animal is easily identified for production testing purposes. I only replace lost ear tags when cattle go thru the chute for routine veterinary work.
The big advantage of freeze branding is the brand is readable year round on black or red cattle. Good brands are easily seen from quite a distance and readable from over 50 feet. Cattlemen with white cattle have no choice but to hot brand, since freeze branding kills the pigment in the hair, turning it white. Some have suggested that holding the freeze brand on for a longer time will kill the hair and look like a hot brand, without the disadvantages of hot branding. I dislike hot brands, while faster to apply, a lot because I cant stand the smell and hate the pain to the cattle, not to mention the hide is discounted after slaughter.
The only disadvantage to freeze branding is the amount of time it takes. Try as we may, it takes at least ten minutes for two of us to place my brand and three numbers on each animal. But at the same time, to hurry too much is a mistake, since the brands are likely to turn out bad. Do not try to apply two irons at once. Too many bad brands will be the result. On the other hand, we placed over 400 brands and numbers last year and they all are very readable, but we follow the procedure as described here as closely as possible. Forty head in a day is the most weve ever done.
If you have a registered brand, all you need is freeze branding equipment and materials. If you do not, the place to start is by getting your own registered brand. If you live in Iowa, contact the State Livestock Brand Recorder at 515-281-8617 to request a registration pack be sent to you. Work with the Recorder to select your own unique brand for approval. The fee for first time registration is $25 and renewals are $25. Each is good for five years.
Once you have registered a brand, the next step is to get an iron with your brand and also a set of number brands if you wish to individually identify your cattle. Excellent brands for freeze branding are manufactured by L & H Mfg., Mandam, ND. They are made of copper alloy and come in various sizes. I like 4 inch by 9/16th inch thick best. A set of numbers and a brand will cost around $200-250 depending on the size selected. My personal brand was made at a local machine ship from cold rolled steel and it works just as well as the copper alloy brands. We brand both bulls and heifers sat about a year of age. Remember that the brand will grow until the animal is mature. The younger the age at which you brand, the larger the brand will be in older animals.
Equipment Needed:
1. A good head gate and squeeze chute is a must to hold the animal as still as possible while the brand is being applied. If possible move the bottom of the squeeze in to keep cattle from going down. A breast plate in the chute helps keep the animal standing too.
2. A brand and/or set of number brands as needed. A 6 and 9 are the same brand reversed.
3. Animal hair clippers with sheep head blades.
4. Animal hair clippers with the thin surgical blade (EA1-sur) made by the Stewart/Oyster Co. Used with the regular top blade (83AU), it will chip real close. It is good to have two or even more sets of each type of blades on hand or more if doing a larger group. Blades will quit cutting in the blink of an eye and there seems to be a huge variation in how long they will last.
5. Container or two large enough to set all the brands on the bottom at one time for cooling. We have a plywood lid on the container with rectangular openings to slip the brands down into the ice and alcohol with each opening identified with the same number as the brand.
6. Mister bottles. The best bottles are the ones costing about $2, normally used for misting flowers and sold by garden supply shores. Again, its best to have at least two or more on hand, because they wear out fairly rapidly. Walmart carries the misters.
7. A large clock with a second hand to be used for timing of brand application.
Necessary Supplies:
Dry Ice - get at least a pound per head, two pounds would be better if it is going to be a hot, windy day-I like it in one or two inch slices, then place it in a plastic water softener sack and beat it up with a hammer. Leave in chunks larger than ice cubes.
99% Alcohol - do not even try to use 70% (the other 30% is water-it will turn to syrup)-get at least a gallon per 10 head, more is better. Store the excess for next year. I try to keep at least a years supply or more in stock all the time.
Extra sharpened clipper blades.
Diesel Fuel or WD40 to lubricate the clippers.
Screwdriver to change blades.
Funnel - to put alcohol back in bottles. Strain thru a cloth.
Heavy plastic bags and a hammer for breaking up the ice.
Rice root brush and old towels for cleaning the brand location.
Freeze Branding Procedure:
1. Break up enough dry ice to cover the bottom of the container(s) with at least two inches of ice. Pour enough alcohol over the ice to cover the ice and the brands placed down in the ice. Add more ice and alcohol as needed during the day. As soon as one is done using a brand place it back in the ice and do not use it again until bubbling stops.
2. Restrain the animal in the chute by the neck and tighten the squeeze chute on the body as much as is possible.
3. Clip the hair in the area to be branded. In the winter or spring use a sheep head clipper first, then clean the area with a brush, then alcohol and a towel, followed by the other clipper with the surgical blade to get the hair as short as possible. Again clean the area with the brush, followed by alcohol and a towel to get the area absolutely clean.
4. Just before placing each and every brand, saturate the individual brand site with alcohol from the mister to provide liquid contact between the iron and the hide. This step is critical to obtaining a good brand because alcohol will evaporate quickly.
5. Apply the brand to the hide for 75 seconds, all the time spraying more alcohol on the brand with the mister every 10 seconds or so. This technique has done more to improve our brands than an other single thing we have changed in the thirty-five years we have been freeze branding. Watch the clock hanging beyond the chute to determine the elapsed time. Some have suggest that it is not necessary to hold the brand on for 75 seconds, but doing so will eliminate the possibility of any bad brands if other procedures are followed properly. Holding the brand on this long will cause some burning, but never fear, the hide will grow back, and your brands will be white hair. Others have tried holding the brand on less than 75 seconds, but they will all admit after trying less than 75 seconds, that 75 seconds works best.
Notes and Observations:
Animals will react somewhat less to the super cooled iron as opposed to a hot one, but they will still try to jump, usually about ten to fifteen seconds into branding. If the brand is knocked off its location during branding, just reapply and add an extra 5 seconds plus the time lost.
One will have a good idea if the brand is done properly if the hide area is frozen stiff. One can determine this by taping with your fingernail. It should feel like taping on a ice cube. It will take three to four weeks for the brand to show up nicely.
Alcohol will migrate thru a styrofoam cooler, but not a plastic one, so I have gone to a 96-can Rubbermaid cooler. It will hold all the number brands, but not your herd brand. I have a smaller plastic cooler for the herd brand. You cant believe how much alcohol will migrate into the styrofoam, the plastic cooler will pay for its self the first year you use it.
Make some arrangement where you put the irons back in the cooler each time in the same place, while you are using them for the sake of efficiency. I have a piece of half inch plywood with rectangular holes in it for each brand.
Safety is very important, never let an iron, alcohol, or ice touch your skin (it is 110 degrees below zero). Always wear good gloves while branding. Also do not smoke because the alcohol is very flammable. Do not use a cattle prod in the work area.
I do not recommend using gasoline with the dry ice for a coolant, as it is even more flammable than alcohol. I also do not recommend antifreeze because it will be too syrupy to work well. Plus, I also do not recommend using liquid nitrogen as a coolant because it is 373 degrees below zero and will kill the hair under the brand and leave a gray line around the edge of the brand, which makes it a lot harder to read. Some have indicated that one can get a good brand if the brand is held on for lessor time, but some brands do not turn out very good. It is even more dangerous to work with liquid nitrogen, because of the extreme cold.
The author of these instructions recommends you register a brand, get the necessary equipment, and start freeze branding. Not only will it deter thieves, but you will appreciate the convenience of permanent, easy to read identification.
Incidentally, both hot and cold brands are now an accepted replacements for tattoos on Registered Angus Cattle.
The most important thing to get very readable brands, is simply to take the time to do it right. It is the reason for most all failures. If one will brand all their heifers each year, in a few years the whole herd will be branded.
P. S. I am always looking for ways to improve our freeze branding methods. The newest one is to use a level to put a level mark across the side of the bovine at the top of where we want to place the brand. A Sharpie felt pen works good to mark the line. We then place the individual brands as straight up and down as we can just below this line. Our brands look a lot neater this way. Anytime I come up with an improvement and I am satisfied it really works, it is posted to this article. I change or add to this article three or four times each year and the last time I modify it is always posted here,12-8-10.
References and Contact Information
This article has appeared in several publications. Evan Rayl, along with his wife Shirley, operate Rayl Angus Farms, Inc. at Bridgewater Iowa.  He has been Angus breeder for 63 years and has served as President of the Iowa Angus Association for two terms.  Best known bulls used in the herd the last 20 years include: Weightlifter, Vanguard, UPS Delivery, Xplorer, Prime Rib, Balanced Attack, Black Canyon, and Wide World. Mr. Rayl has also been the Editor of Livestock Plus for 17 years.  Evan was taught to freeze brand by Dr. Robert deBaca, who wrote the original bible of how to freeze brand back in 1974.
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Offline LN

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2012, 01:21:37 PM »
I freeze brand too and have been for years using dry ice and alcohol. I prefer freeze brands because of readability and less pain for the cattle. We are still working on our technique but get better every year. I'll have to go take a pic.

It's amusing to read everyone's take on it because everyone has different timing, blades, etc. But I always like to see others' take on it since it is more of an art than an exact science.

We used surgical blades the first few years and didn't have great results. We switched to sheep head 20 tooth blades and had much better results on our most recent branding. We apply for 48 seconds.

Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin'for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts.     -Gone With the Wind

Offline Cruiser

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2012, 01:32:51 PM »
Interesting thread, I really enjoyed reading the posts!

Online firesweepranch

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2012, 01:49:40 PM »
Thanks DL! I think we followed most of that, except we put it on for 60 seconds. Reading your article made me breath a little easier, since most literature I was reading said 40 to 50 seconds. I was hoping we did not keep it on there too long. Also, we noted that they completely stopped jumping or moving after 20 seconds. Every one of them. So 20 seconds seems to be the magic number for us for the moving to stop.

LN, we used surgical blades (on our Listers). From what we read, it makes for better contact. Are the sheep heads closer than surgical blades? Is the 48 seconds for calves, cows, or what age?

Another "wonder" that we have (and will be resolved when the hair grows in) is how the effect of moving the brand after we applied it will effect the brand. We had one bull calf (10 months old) that was in the vet's squeeze chute, and the brand was on him for around 10 seconds when he jumped up and put his front left leg through the hole in the chute where we were branding. We had to stop everything, release the squeeze, get his leg unstuck, and start over. His brand spot was hot feeling and crusty feeling last night when we checked on the cattle (around 10 hours post branding), and sore to the touch where as the other cattle did not seem to be sore, nor where they hot to the touch. Obviously, his brand will turn out differently! I just hope it looks OK!
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 01:56:07 PM by firesweepranch »
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Online chambero

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2012, 03:20:56 PM »
Acetone (get it at Lowes) works great as a coolant.  Doesnt absorb water or evap. like alcohol and isnt as dangerous as gasoline.

Offline LN

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 05:34:29 PM »
Thanks DL! I think we followed most of that, except we put it on for 60 seconds. Reading your article made me breath a little easier, since most literature I was reading said 40 to 50 seconds. I was hoping we did not keep it on there too long. Also, we noted that they completely stopped jumping or moving after 20 seconds. Every one of them. So 20 seconds seems to be the magic number for us for the moving to stop.

LN, we used surgical blades (on our Listers). From what we read, it makes for better contact. Are the sheep heads closer than surgical blades? Is the 48 seconds for calves, cows, or what age?



I think with the surgical we were getting too much contact and killing the hair follicle instead of just killing the pigment follicle. The sheep heads don't give as close a trim and so far my results are much better this year. Bizarre, right? Even in my grandfather's notes from freeze branding there's a spot that says "surgical blades???" so even he had questions about using them.
Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin'for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts.     -Gone With the Wind

Online firesweepranch

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience...
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2012, 09:10:37 PM »
Just for those following with interest, I took some photos of the brands tonight. For me, I can see them plain as day! Does that mean they took? We shall see  ;)

The last photo is the one that ended up in the hair line just a bit. and the cow is laying down!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 09:12:37 PM by firesweepranch »
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Offline misty

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience... (48 hours later pics added)
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 10:16:44 AM »
We also have used freeze branding because I think it is easier on the cattle
but Montana does not recognize it.  People have brought it before the board
of livestock to make freeze branding recognized but the board will not change it.
We are now thinking of changing to hot branding because of this even tho we
do not want to. Has anyone ever used the electric  branding irons?

Offline crystalcattle

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Re: Our first freeze branding experience... (48 hours later pics added)
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 01:34:41 PM »
That is a really unique brand. Will you post photos later once the hair turns white. Would love to see how it turns out.

 

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