Yesterday was the first branding of the season.
Darin – twin brother to my son-in-law Phil – calves his angus herd in January, and his calves are growing. We gathered at his place with a pretty good crew to get the job done. (More about brandings at http://www.montanacowboycollege.com/branding.htm )
Some folks believe that branding is a barbaric custom. Many of those same folks have their sons circumcised and their daughters pierced, and may sport tattoos themselves. They have their children immunized and their pets neutered. Any one of these procedures inflicts more stress than branding a calf.
A good brand takes literally three seconds. It produces the same cherry-red skin color as a summer sunburn, and peels in a few days like the skin off your nose.
Sending a calf out into the world without a brand is as risky as signing a check with Pay to the Order of left blank. Anyone can haul that animal to the stockyards and take home the money. Branding takes a lot less time and stress than putting a microchip in your pooch – and much less than worming your cat.
A brand also provides protection for the consumer: it makes a positive identification as to the source. Should disease be detected anywhere along the supply chain, brand records allow officials to trace back any animal to its source ranch.
After the branding the calves seemed none the worse for their experience – they quickly searched out their mamas and went right to sucking. The men, also, went right to sucking – on their beers; moving on from there up to the house where Gloria served a fine lunch.