Skip to main content

Branding our cattle - Part 2 - how to brand

As I said in Part 1 (registering a brand), I do not support the compulsory branding of cattle in QLD, but unfortunately under the QLD Brands Act 1915 (Section 24) it is illegal to sell unbranded cattle, with the penalty being 6 months jail!  So we will continue to brand them until the law changes (believe me, I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen).



Options for branding
The traditional method of branding is "fire branding" in which a red hot iron brand is held against the skin of the cattle for 2-3 seconds to leave a permanant mark.  I have read all sorts of rubbish about it not hurting the cattle, but I've seen for myself they can be standing in the crush perfectly calm and as soon as that brand touches them, they will struggle and cry out.  Of course it hurts them.

There are a few alternative methods if you MUST brand.  One is freeze branding, which uses dry ice to mark the skin of the animal.  This requires special equipment and more work, but apparently the skin numbs and so the cattle doesn't feel as much pain.  I doubt that this is a very popular method, I don't even know where to get dry ice in the South Burnett, and I'm sure the more remote you get the more difficult it would be.  Also the equipment works out to be more expensive and making the brand (custom made to match your symbol) is more of a specialist job.

You can also get a device that immobalises the cattle (the one I know of is called stock still), which can reduce the stress of being branded (but surely it still hurts them after they are released).

We decided to use fire branding because its simple, its easy to get the equipment and to set it up at any time.  Ideally we shouldn't have to brand at all, but if I can't get the law changed, maybe we will look at some of the less painful methods I mentioned above.

As I said in the last post, we got our brand made by a local blalcksmith.  While it is possible to just light a fire to heat the branding iron, we decided to buy a gas furnace.  This means we get a nice hot iron (and get a good brand on the first attempt), we don't have to wait for a fire to be hot enough and we don't risk starting a bush fire.  I keep forgetting to take a photo of our one, but here are some similar examples.  They are not cheap, but sometimes its worth buying the right tool for the job!

The branding procedure
We usually brand weaners right before we need to sell them.  We will start early in the morning and work all the cattle through the yards, doing what needs to be done to any cows, and separating the weaners into a pen.  Then we get the furnace hot and prepare the ear tags (yes, we also have to ear tag them, see how the brand is redundant!).  We bring the weaners up through the race and catch them in the head bale, we tag them and then Pete gets the branding iron hot enough and holds it to the rump of the animal for 2-3 seconds to create a nice clear brand.  It usually takes them a few seconds to react, which is just enough time to remove the branding iron before they struggle and smudge it.  Then we let the poor thing go and bring in he next victim weaner.  If we are organised and everything goes smoothly, it can be quite a quick process.  Unnecessary, frustration, but quick.

Do you brand cattle?  What method do you use?  Would you support a move to optional branding in QLD?

Comments

  1. I have used freeze branding on my horses. They just stood there showing no reaction whilst it was done, so I'm guessing it wasn't particularly painful at all.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

Getting started with chickens - Tanya from Lovely Greens

Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....

Farmer Liz: You will remember Tanya from Lovely Greens from the first series, she lives on the Isle of Mann and added chickens to her garden about a year ago.  You can leave comments for this post on Tanya's blog.



How many chickens (and other fowl) do you keep, what breed and what do you use them for (meat, eggs, slug control etc)?
Tanya: Around the same time that we were initially thinking about having hens another friend beat us to the punch. She went to the local pet store and bought a flat-pack hen house and chicken run combo and found a local farmer who had dozens of semi-feral chickens running around his property. One night he pulled three down from the trees and my friend took them home in a pet carrier. She named them Miracel, Carmen, and Geraldine and though they’re probably related they were all…

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing mushrooms in my kitchen!

I’ve been wanting to try growing mushrooms for some time. I LOVE mushrooms and we buy them from the supermarket every week, so I was keen to find a way to produce them at home to reduce waste and potentially cost as well.





A few years ago I found out that you could grow mushrooms from the spent mushroom compost from mushroom farms. So we dropped in to a farm on the Sunshine Coast and picked up a couple of boxes for $2 each. I diligently kept them dark and sprayed them with water, but in our climate, I just couldn’t keep them damp enough (and I had to keep them outside because our shed was too hot). I never managed to produce any mushrooms from those boxes, but when I gave up and tipped the compost out onto the garden, mushrooms sprang up everywhere. I wasn’t confident that they were the right mushrooms though, so I didn’t harvest any of those. As the proverb says, All mushrooms are edible, but some only once! I am generally a bit nervous about unidentified fungi.

Since then, I had…