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cowfarmer
Senior Contributor

Branding young calves

I had a friend ask me if he could brand really young calves some are even a couple days old. I wait until close to weaning, so I didnt know what to tell him, I suppose you could burn through hide if a calf was that young. Any one have experience.

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7 Replies
Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Branding young calves

We brand calves as young as 3-4 days old.

It is very important, not to 'overbrand' them, as their hide is thin, but you can do it without harm, if you are careful.

It might not be a bad idea to put out fly blocks, if fly season has started, so they don't get pestered on the raw skin, until it heals over good.  While it only happened once, we had maggots get into a brand on a little calf that went a bit too deep, and left a scab.

Basically, you don't want to brand to make a scab, just burn the hair off good, and it will take if the iron is hot enough.

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k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: Branding young calves

Nebr -  Ever done freeze branding on calves to avoid the stress you talked about -

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Branding young calves

Thought about it, but never done it.

Last I knew, freeze branding was not considered legal proof of ownership in Nebraska. 
As far as I know, it has to be hot iron branded, for that.

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GoredHusker
Senior Contributor

Re: Branding young calves

Freeze branding isn't even recognized by Nebraska Brand Law, therefore it wouldn't make much sense to do it.  Earlier this spring when baby calves were worth 450-500 bucks, guys were almost branding them when they hit the ground.  Now that baby calves are only worth about 200-240 bucks, guys will wait a bit longer.  I haven't branded anything yet, but I don't noramally until the middle of May.  However, my cows are running on rye pasture close to the house not close to a main road so I don't lose any sleep about having them stolen.  Just about everyone here does something a little different.  I have a neighbor that knife cuts the bulls when he tags the newborns.  Some guys band at birth.  Some run everything through the cradle and either knife cut or band.  Some guys implant when they work calves while some see little to no benefit from it.   

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k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: Branding young calves

Two things that are interesting about the brand law which leaves out about 1/3 of the state and freeze branding ---

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Branding young calves

I do like to have my breeding bulls freeze branded.  That way, if they lose an ear tag or whatever, I can tell one from the other at a glance (we run angus bulls).  However, I also hot brand them when I buy them, to meet the Nebraska brand law.

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GoredHusker
Senior Contributor

Re: Branding young calves

The reason freeze branding isn't recognized is because it really doesn't work very well.  I used to freeze brand every heifer I kept for breeding purposes.  Freeze branding black cattle worked okay, but not great.  It didn't always work.  Freeze branding lighter colored cattle rarely worked because even if it did work it didn't show up well at all.  After freeze branding for five years, I gave it up as it just wasn't practical at all.  Some numbers could be read while others just never developed.  I don't have this problem with a hot iron.  I've really never understood why some of the state requires brands while others do not.  Even if I was in the part of the state where it wasn't required, I'd still brand.  Cattle theft isn't real common, but it does occasionally happen. 

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