Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So What Happens at a Branding Anyway? #Ranchlife

so this post is a little late, but yeesh, I seem to be so far behind on my posting.  We branded over the weekend. Some of you readers know exactly what that means, others might have a vague idea, and some might even be scratching their heads. Every place does things a little different, but here is how we do it. I do feel like I should put a disclaimer here:  PICTURE HEAVY POST!!

kids get in on the action early and learn by doing, it's just a little funner getting to do it with a world champion saddle bronc rider.
Why do we brand our cows? Simple answer: so you know who the cow belongs to. There are other ways, like ear tags (but they fall out) but you need a brand to sell a cow.  Cattle rustling still happens!

My Dad has a super cool brand called a horsetrack.  It is a single iron brand, meaning it takes one hot iron to brand.  My husband has a three iron brand RJ/ 
some of my families brands

Brand Inspection is required:
  1. Before removal from the County.
  2. Before removal from the State.
  3. Before a change of ownership (selling one head or more cattle or horses).
  4. Before cattle or horses are sold at a livestock auction.
  5. Before slaughter at a licensed establishment.
If you are really interested there is more info HERE

Before a branding can happen: 
  • Friends and family are notified 
  • Vaccines and neccesary medicines are purchased
  • Some outfits use growth hormones, we do not
  • A temporary corral is set up where the cows are. (not all do this) 
  • The food is planned and prepared to feed the crew
  • Temporary corral setup with portable panels
On the morning of the branding everyone meets at the corral, we then set up all the trucks and horse trailors as a wing to help guide the herd into the corral.  Some women are busy with small kids and preparing food, although most of the food will have been prepared the night before.

This was the riding crew Saturday morning, note the wing of trucks and trailors behind us. I am fourth from the right.
note the small girl close to the end on the left with her small pony.

 Then we get our directions and split up. We head to different areas of the pasture.  The goal is to find all the cows and calves and get them into the corral and do it on the first pass. 

Sometimes a calf will run back, then another, and another, and then the whole herd is making for the back forty and you have to start over.  Calves move better if they can stay with their moms.  Sounds easy, but isn't.  The calmer you can keep the cows the better. Making noise gets them moving, making too much fuss and commotion freaks them out and makes the herd harder to manage.

Once we got them to the part of the pasture where the corral was we held them for about 20-30 minutes.  This allowed the moms and babies to find each other again and makes the move into the corral smoother. 

 Once the cows are in the corral the branding irons get heated,  vaccines drawn up, extra supplies readied.

People are needed to
  •  rope calves
  • wrestle calves
  • give vaccines
  • notch ears
  • run branding irons
  • keep a tally
 Once a calf is roped and brought out to the branding area, a team of two wrestlers hold the calf down.  The tally person checks whose calf it is as identified by the color of eartag in and whether or not the calf is a steer or a heifer.   The overall health of the calf is given a quick once over, vaccines are given and the calf is branded. Any other issues are adressed like if the calf has diarrhea, an infected umbilical cord etc.
things get busy! See all the action in the background?

The kids get to ride a calf or two and make sure to compare rides afterwards.

note the other boys watching!

Once the last calf if branded the rest of the cows are turned out, the corral is torn down, and it's time to eat!
This was pretty vague, but it would have been a really long post to get more detailed. Feel free to ask questions!


  1. That is super cool and a life I have no idea about! Please share more about ranching and ranch life because it's something I have never experienced. Maybe I should share how to fish for lobsters! ;)

  2. This is so fascinating!!! I love hearing about it!! That girl with her pony is adorable!!

  3. I always think that this is something from the past...it's so cool that you get to live this life!

  4. Very interesting! My grandfather had cows but all I can remember doing is help feed them.

    and yeah.
    I wanna invite myself next time.

  6. I love when you write #ranchlife posts!

  7. Do you do the castrations at branding too? That is the part I remember being squeamish about as a kid. Loved branding time. Was so fun to see everyone working hard and playing hard after! Loved being with the boys...

  8. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.


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