Branding iron size

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Hoover

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What is the standard or best size of iron for 3-6 month calves?

My family has never branded that I know of. I’m the oldest male in the family, only 42, but the oldest nonetheless. My wife kids and I have decided to start branding, I have submitted my potential brand to the state of kansas, just awaiting approval. Once approved of course I’ll need the iron, whether I make myself out of mild steel or pay for a nice stainless iron, I’m in the process of getting everything figured out. I know I’ll need 2, 1 for cows and a smaller 1 for the cows. What’s everyone here use as far as size?
 

Bestoutwest

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I can't remember what size I got, but it was 4"+. I use it on everything. There's no point in spending more money or time than you need to. One brander. Get an electric one from L and H, and go from there. I think bigger is better, but that's me.
 

SBMF 2015

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If you never have, why start hot iron branding now? Freeze brand or tattoo.
There is a knack to branding. Maybe more of an art. Anybody can burn a hide, but a legible brand takes skill. Not to mention that unique smell.

I use 3.5" freeze branding irons on 6 wts.
 
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Hoover

Hoover

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Several around have tried the freeze branding, they don’t stick with it. I asked a couple guys why, they said it just didn’t turn out well, basically they did something wrong.
We don’t have electricity where our cows are, never ran a generator around them either. Any issues with calves in the chute and a generator in the background?
 

SBMF 2015

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Several around have tried the freeze branding, they don’t stick with it. I asked a couple guys why, they said it just didn’t turn out well, basically they did something wrong.
We don’t have electricity where our cows are, never ran a generator around them either. Any issues with calves in the chute and a generator in the background?
You could either use a long drop cord or batt powered clippers.
We run a torpedo heater next to the chute all winter. The cattle don't really seem to mind. That heater screams, a generator shouldn't be be that bad.
 

Lucky

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For calves I've got a L&H with 3" letters and the 3/8" rod size. It seems to work perfect and grows out nicely as they age. I bought a Husky brand 4" to use on cows but it's actually a touch big and the hip bones get in the way of making a good brand. I ordered the 3/8" rod size but the sent it in 1/4" rod size and 1/4" is just too small.
 

greybeard

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Try to keep the design simple. The more intricate, the less legible it will likely be a few weeks after the hair dies off and less likely it will grow clear and distinguishable with the hide size. Running irons used to be pretty common in my part of the world, and the designs covered 1/2 the flanks and hips. We didn't use one. The HY brand we used for 3 decades measured 6" wide and 5" tall and we used the same iron on all ages. Home made out of stainless around 1965. I still have it somewhere.
HY
One of our neighbors used a running iron and drew out a huge PE on his cattle and calves but it was open range then and everyone that ran OR used larger brands than we did since all ours were fenced in on our own property. They wanted a bigger brand to easily pick out their animals in the annual roundups in the nat forest. Everyone always used wood fire heat for the irons. A running iron is just a straight rod with a crook on the end, Kinda J shaped.

Yep, the smell is 'unique', just as burning cauterizing horn is.
 
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Silver

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Where I am the rules for cattle 3 months and up state:
The face of the iron must not be less than 3/8" (10 mm) in width and not less than 3" (75 mm) in height and 3" (75 mm) wide.
The space between characters must be no less than 1" (25 mm).
 

daneg

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If you make your own irons any Welded joint should be ground out on the face of the iron to prevent blotching of the brand from excess heat in corners.
 

Dusty Britches

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If you want to use an electric brander but do not have electricity, you could get a power inverter that can plug into your truck or UTV or has the ability to clip onto a 12v car battery. I use the latter and it is quiet and effective for lighting up my work area at night.
 
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Hoover

Hoover

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Thanks for the replies, I am set on fire branding, at this point I look at fire as more reliable until I get my house built and electric setup
 

SBMF 2015

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Its defiantly a good idea to put some kind of permeant mark on livestock, and a Hot iron would be in my top 3 choices.
I use this image when I lecture at college about freeze branding. You don't see a lot of cattle with both. FB hot iron brad zoomed
 

Dave

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Everyone here uses 4 inch letters. Maybe some 3 1/2 inch. Most use a fire. The only 2 use an electric iron are me and the guy with the most cows. I have power in the barn and he uses a generator. I don't even notice the generator until he turns it off or runs out of gas. The electric iron is much more consistent with the temperature. When using fire iron you will want a hot fire. Split the wood fairly small. You want lots of coals as opposed to a couple big pieces of firewood.
Notice the lower right side of the picture. A pit was dug for the fire. Others will use a half of a barrel or a tire rim. Or if the fire is built on the surface they will have two steel stakes supporting a rod. Having the iron into the fire at an angle will help to give you uniform heat on the branding surface.
It isn't difficult to brand. Just hold the iron on until you get a burn the color of saddle leather.
My brand E/lazy D is pretty big. It is about 7 by 6 inches. Takes up most of the rib on a calf. Oregon is now requiring 3 figures on new brands which does make for larger brands. Location is also an issue. A big brand will fit better on the rib. If you are going to have a shoulder brand make sure it is a small iron. Not much room on the shoulder, especially with a calf.
Ahhhh nothing like the smell of burning hair on a crisp spring morning.

P4011863
 
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Hoover

Hoover

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This is what I submitted, number and letter each 3.5” tall 3” wide. Well I’ve tried to post a picture, maybe it’s just delayed for on reason or another
 

CowboyRam

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Dad talks about one of the ranchers that ran out on the Sweatwater. His brand was a B reverse B, it looked like a big bug on the side of the cow, and the way he talks it took up the hole side. Ole Ben's ranch was 30 mile wide by 90 miles long, and he always said he would rather have two skinny cows than one fat one. Evidently he was quite the character. One time they were all at the bar in Jeffery City, at that time it was called Home on the Range, and someone came in for directions. Ole Ben ordered a round of drinks, the guy didn't want one, ole Ben said everyone drinks; he drank is drink and got the hell out of there.
 

SBMF 2015

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Everyone here uses 4 inch letters. Maybe some 3 1/2 inch. Most use a fire. The only 2 use an electric iron are me and the guy with the most cows. I have power in the barn and he uses a generator. I don't even notice the generator until he turns it off or runs out of gas. The electric iron is much more consistent with the temperature. When using fire iron you will want a hot fire. Split the wood fairly small. You want lots of coals as opposed to a couple big pieces of firewood.
Notice the lower right side of the picture. A pit was dug for the fire. Others will use a half of a barrel or a tire rim. Or if the fire is built on the surface they will have two steel stakes supporting a rod. Having the iron into the fire at an angle will help to give you uniform heat on the branding surface.
It isn't difficult to brand. Just hold the iron on until you get a burn the color of saddle leather.
My brand E/lazy D is pretty big. It is about 7 by 6 inches. Takes up most of the rib on a calf. Oregon is now requiring 3 figures on new brands which does make for larger brands. Location is also an issue. A big brand will fit better on the rib. If you are going to have a shoulder brand make sure it is a small iron. Not much room on the shoulder, especially with a calf.
Ahhhh nothing like the smell of burning hair on a crisp spring morning.

View attachment 17151
That's pretty cool!

Does anyone ever complain about rib brands? I know at one time the packers said they would discount cattle that had brands in the middle of a hide because the brand had to be trimmed. But hided prices are so cheap maybe it doesn't make any difference?
 

Dave

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That's pretty cool!

Does anyone ever complain about rib brands? I know at one time the packers said they would discount cattle that had brands in the middle of a hide because the brand had to be trimmed. But hided prices are so cheap maybe it doesn't make any difference?
No complaints around here about the brands. You will see older cows with a rib brand that was applied as a calf. You can read those brands from a long ways away.
 

Travlr

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What is the standard or best size of iron for 3-6 month calves?

My family has never branded that I know of. I’m the oldest male in the family, only 42, but the oldest nonetheless. My wife kids and I have decided to start branding, I have submitted my potential brand to the state of kansas, just awaiting approval. Once approved of course I’ll need the iron, whether I make myself out of mild steel or pay for a nice stainless iron, I’m in the process of getting everything figured out. I know I’ll need 2, 1 for cows and a smaller 1 for the cows. What’s everyone here use as far as size?
Mine was 4 inches wide and 7 tall. I didn't brand calves until they were good sized, about five months, left shoulder. Same brand for all animals regardless of size.
 

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