New cattle branding

It's not one of the most prominent laws that went into effect this month.

Photo courtesy: Stockman's Association

It has to do with how farmers brand their cattle, although some ranchers have been using the method for nearly two decades.

We're all familiar with the classic hot iron to brand cattle, but there's a new way of branding that's more humane and now recognized as a legal means of identification.

At a Stockman's Association subcommittee meeting, ranchers and industry leaders discussed ways to implement the newest legal form of cattle identification.

It's called "freeze branding." Rather than burning the identification number into the flesh, farmers can now use dry ice to permanently dye the animal's hair.

"Those brands are registered with the state and are unique to that location, the species, as well as the configuration. It's basically like having the title to a vehicle; that unique symbol indicates who the owner is," said Julie Elingson, ND Stockmen’s Association.

It's not just identification codes; farmers can imprint their logos onto the hides.

For the hot iron, costs of branding is pennies per head. But freeze branding can range from $2.50 to up to $5.00 per head. Jamie Hague has been freeze branding since 2001.

"Well, you have a permanent ID, so you always know who that animal is for the entire life of the animal. It's just another tool in the tool box for the industry," said Jamie Hague, Blue Hill Ranch owner.

Ranchers say this method of branding takes longer, but is ultimately less painful to the animal. And the only affect to the hide is the new white hair.

Freeze branding is only capable of turning fur white. Meaning, one of the predominant disadvantages is that it's hard to use if an animal has light-colored fur.