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.
Cattle branding in Texas, circa 1980.
Branding cattle, circa 1891.
A classic three circle roundup, Custer National Forest, Montana, circa 1939.
Branding a young calf, Paradise Valley, Nevada, circa 1980.
Branding a heifer, Cerri (Wallace) Ranch, circa 1978.
Branding irons heating up in a smouldering fire, Cerri (Wallace) Ranch, circa 1979.
Two at a time, Grayson Ranch, Nevada, circa 1978.
A branding pen on a cattle ranch near Marfa, Texas, circa 1939.
Branded calf, Ninety-Six Ranch, Paradise Valley Nevada, circa 1979.
Pulling a calf from the herd at the Quarter Circle U Ranch roundup, Montana, circa 1939
Branding a calf, Quarter Circle U roundup, Montana, circa 1939.