The practice of cattle branding has been around since ancient Egypt, but it was the American cowboy that would make it famous.
Coming over from Spain, brands and branding are the stuff of Old West legend and the topic of countless western films. In the time before barbed wire fences criss-crossed the plains, brands were used to distinguish different ranchers’ cattle. Though the West has long been closed, branding is still a popular way of marking livestock to easily identify lost or stolen animals. However, branding is not universally favored and does hold a place on the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Cruelty Glossary. Recently other forms of marking cattle have been used from RFID tagging to tattoos and even branding with liquid nitrogen.
We took a look through the Library of Congress for some interesting pictures of cattle branding past.