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How to Brand Cattle

Cowboys traditionally branded cattle in the spring or early summer. Here's how they did it.


  • : Never attempt to brand a cow if you are not well-trained in the technique.
  • Step 1: Heat the iron Heat your branding iron in a wood fire until the end of the iron is ash-colored.
  • TIP: Do not use a forge or a coal fire to heat the iron. These may make the iron too hot.
  • Step 2: Apply the iron Apply the hot iron to the animal's hair so that it burns the hair and the outer layer of skin. Work slowly and carefully.
  • TIP: Do not attempt to brand the animal with acids or other chemical agents.
  • Step 3: Remove the iron Remove the iron. The brand, which should resemble saddle leather in color, will let others know that the cow belongs to you for the rest of its life.
  • FACT: Some ranchers now identify their cattle with microchips implanted beneath the animal's skin.

You Will Need

  • Branding iron
  • Wood fire
  • Dry animal

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