Branding is the placement of a permanent identifying mark on the hide of an animal by destroying the hair follicles and altering hair regrowth.
From a welfare perspective, branding is not the preferred method of identifying livestock. Other methods, in particular National Livestock Identification (NLIS) devices such as an ear tag or rumen bolus, are preferred.
Hide damage at the branding site also decreases the value of a tanned hide.
State branding requirements
The requirement to brand cattle varies around Australia. It is possible that these requirements may change as part of the development of new Australian Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Animals.
Producers should check with their state department of primary industries as to the legal requirement to brand cattle in their State. In some states and territories cattle must be branded prior to sale. In other states, branding is not required.
Cheek branding is illegal in most states.
Best practice procedures for branding
- Good restraint is essential - use a cradle for young calves and a crush for older cattle.
- Never brand wet, weak or emaciated cattle.
- Brand animals when 2-6 months of age.
- When hot-iron branding, ensure branding irons are well maintained and heated to the correct temperature (apply the hot-irons for a maximum of 2-3 seconds).
- Symbol brands and conjoined three-piece brands are preferred for animal welfare.