How to mix dry ice and alcohol freeze brand

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JackAngus

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How do I mix dry ice and alcohol for a freeze brand? And how much do I need? 8 calves total. Have some weaned calves I want to freeze brand. First time thanks.
 

bse

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Liquid nitrogen is alot colder, you dont hold the brand on as long, think it evaporates quicker without a little different se up. I get along fine with methanol and dry ice
 

wbvs58

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Have the alcohol about 2" over the brands and add the dry ice so there is plenty floating around and keep adding as needed as it disappears quickly until it pulls the temp down and then stabilises. It is ready when there is heavy frost forming on handles above the liquid, usually about 10 minutes, I buy 5kg to do about 20.

I find dry ice gives much more consistent results than liquid /nitrogen.

Ken
 

Fire Sweep Ranch

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We use 99% alcohol, one gallon, and about 8 pounds of dry ice. Something we learned earlier this year, have a deep container. We have always used an old, Styrofoam fishing cooler. We tried a smaller one, and still made sure the brand was covered by several inches of the cold liquid. The brands on that group of cattle are very poor, barely show up with white hair. I think the volume of liquid in the container is important. We went back to the old larger Styrofoam one and the brands are coming in nicely on that group. The solution lasts for awhile, we did 15 head and still had lots of dry ice left in the liquid.
Something else that helps, spray the hide with the alcohol (we put it in a sprayer) before putting the brand on the skin, and then spritz the brand/hide a few times while the brand is held to the hide, to keep it wet. It seems to help a bunch.
 

Angus Rocks

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We used to use the purest form of alcohol we could get and then this year a friend said they just use gas out of the pump so that is what we did and had the best brands we have ever had. Use plenty of dry ice if that is what you are using.
 

Stickney94

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For 8 calves -- I'd recommend 10 lbs of dry ice. That is more than enough, but just in case you run into issues you will have some more available. If you have to buy the dry ice say the day or evening before I'd suggest getting 2x that amount.

Some grocery stores sell dry ice (often in 5 or 10 lb packages). If you have a small local grocer they may give you dry ice that comes in on their supply trucks. Ice companies also usually sell dry ice.

I've had to resort to denatured alcohol as that is the easiest alcohol to source.

As mentioned an old styrofoam cooler works well. Be careful, plastic "coleman" coolers can have the plastic crack. A five buck styrofoam cooler is the way to go.

Place irons in cooler cover with alcohol (I like the 2" suggestion) and add dry ice CAREFULLY! 10 minutes of cooling is probably a good tip for getting the irons to temp.

Shave the brand area with a clipper. Apply a layer of alcohol (this alcohol can be ambient temp). We use an old dish soap dispenser.

Place brand on animal. Set clock to 60-70 seconds. The animal will jump at about 10-15 seconds so be ready. We put a fair amount of pressure on the iron to both hold in place and to get good hide contact.

My biggest tip is to take your time shaving the brand area and get it closely shaved with your clipper.

The next day the brand won't be really noticeable. After about 3 weeks the brand area will start to scab over. At 2 months you should have a readable brand (those are rough estimates).
 

jschoolcraft86

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Here are some of the things that have helped me:

1.) make sure to wait to pull the brand out of the ice/alcohol or nitrogen until I see some ice creeping up the handle on the brand. This has always been a good indicator for me.

2.) be liberal with your application of alcohol while holding the brand on. I keep a spray bottle on hand and spray the edges of the brand while I'm holding it in place. I think this has had the biggest impact on the sharpness of the brand lines.

3.) Don't hold it for too long. I go for 60 seconds (with dry ice/alchol, I would do ~45 seconds with liquid nitrogen) and that has been fine, even in south texas heat

4.) As mentioned above, get all the hair shaved off of the area that you can and then brush it off so you have a clean canvas for your artwork.

5.) Don't worry too much if the animal starts moving around and you have to reposition your brand. I have only had one brand come out a little wonky (looks like two of the same brand slightly offset) and I just told people if you put on some of those 3D glasses the brand will pop out at you. ;P

I prefer the dry ice to the liquid nitrogen, but I am also more accustomed to using the dry ice. I do believe it makes cleaner brand lines, but that may be related to my skill level/experience when using each.
 

Nesikep

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I've toyed with the idea of freeze branding.. but neither liquid nitrogen nor dry ice are readily available here.
Anyone ever use liquid propane? (-45F).. not nearly as cold as dry ice.. probably wouldn't work well
 

wbvs58

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Nesi, you can make dry ice yourself, just get a Co2 cylinder and hose and release it into a canvas bag. My neighbour did it this to brand this year. I have no experience with it but google it for details.

Ken
 

Till-Hill

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wbvs58 said:
Have the alcohol about 2" over the brands and add the dry ice so there is plenty floating around and keep adding as needed as it disappears quickly until it pulls the temp down and then stabilises. It is ready when there is heavy frost forming on handles above the liquid, usually about 10 minutes, I buy 5kg to do about 20.

I find dry ice gives much more consistent results than liquid /nitrogen.

Ken
I'll 2nd dry ice, hired a pro guy to do our heifers one year. He used LN and well they looked nice for awhile and the next summer couldn't see them. Buddy mine now comes as does our and uses dry ice. Everyone is darn near perfect.
 

gizmom

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We use dry ice have tried both LN and dry ice but feel more comfortable with dry ice. We tried to reused the alcohol one year and that was an epic FAIL.

Gizmom
 

jbar5

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this is an article we copied and have followed for the past 10 years and have had excellent results

Freeze Branding
By Evan Rayl
In every state west of Iowa, branding is an annual ritual that takes place
on virtually every ranch in the spring just before the bulls are put out to
pasture. In Iowa, just 4000 brands are registered and worse yet, most are
not used, resulting in a haven for cattle thieves. Recently, a farmer was
arrested in Southern Iowa, who has admitted to many thefts in the area
spread over the past ten years. If you protect your cattle by freeze
branding, you greatly reduce the chances of being a victim. Thieves will
look for an easier mark.
Since July 1, 1995, freeze brands have been a legal brand in Iowa. Not only
are these brands proof of ownership in a court of law, but livestock
auctions and other cattle buyers will check ownership carefully if freeze
branded cattle are presented to them to sell. Also, if you have cattle get
out everyone in the neighborhood will know where they belong. My neighbors
all know who to call if they see a cow with a freeze brand out of her
pasture. In addition, if you also apply number brands, each animal is easily
identified for production testing purposes. I replace lost ear tags only
when cattle go thru the chute for routine veterinary work.
The big advantage of freeze branding is the brand is readable year round on
black or red cattle. Good brands are easily seen from quite a distance and
readable from over 50 feet. Cattlemen with white cattle have no choice but
to hot brand, since freeze branding kills the pigment in the hair, turning
it white. I really dislike hot brands because I can¹t stand the smell and
hate the pain to the cattle, not to mention the hide is discounted after
slaughter. The only disadvantage to freeze branding is the amount of time it
takes. Try as we may, it takes at least ten minutes for two of us to
place my brand and three numbers on each animal. But at the same time, to
hurry too much is a mistake, since the brands are likely to turn out bad. On
the other hand, we placed over 400 brands and numbers last year and they all
are very readable, but we follow the procedure below as closely as possible.
Forty head in a day is the most we¹ve ever done.
If you have a registered brand, all you need is freeze branding equipment
and materials. If you do not, the place to start is by getting your own
registered brand. If you live in Iowa, contact the State Livestock Brand
Recorder at 515-281-8617, to request a registration pack be sent to you.
Work with the Recorder to select your own unique brand for approval. The fee
for first time registration is $15 and renewals are $5. Each is good for
five years. Once you have registered a brand, the next step is to get an
iron with your brand and also a set of number brands if you wish to
individually identify your cattle. Excellent brands for freeze branding are
manufactured by L & H Mfg., Mandam, ND. They are made of copper alloy and
come in various sizes. I like 4 inch best. A set of numbers and a brand will
cost around $200-250 depending on the size selected.
Equipment Needed
1. A good head gate and squeeze chute is a must to hold the animal as
still as possible while the brand is being applied. If possible move the
bottom of the squeeze in to keep cattle from going down.
2. A brand and/or set of number brands as needed.
3. Animal hair clippers with sheep head blades.
4. Animal hair clippers with the thin surgical blade (EA1-sur) made
by the Stewart/Oyster Co. Used with the regular top blade (83AU), it will
chip real close. It is best to have two sets of each type of blades on hand
or more if doing a large group.
5. Container or two large enough to set all the brands on the bottom
at one time for cooling. We have lids on the containers with rectangular
openings to slip the brands down into the ice and alcohol with each opening
identified with the same number as the brand.
6. Mister bottles. The best bottles are the ones costing about $2,
normally used for misting flowers and sold by garden supply shores. Again,
its best to have at least two on hand, because they wear out fairly rapidly.
WalMart carries the misters.
7. A large clock with second hand to be used for timing of brand
application.
Necessary Supplies
€ Dry Ice - get at least a pound per head, two pounds would be better
if it is going to be a hot, windy day-I like it in one or two inch slices,
then place it in a plastic water softener sack and beat it up with a hammer.
Leave in chunks larger than ice cubes.
€ 99% Alcohol - do not even try to use 70% (the other 30% is
water)-get at least a gallon per 10 head, more is better. Store the excess
for next year. I try to keep at least a years supply or more in stock.
€ Extra sharpened clipper blades.
€ Diesel Fuel to lubricate the clippers.
€ Screwdriver to change blades.
€ Funnel - to put alcohol back in bottles. Strain thru a cloth.
€ Heavy plastic bags and a hammer for breaking up the ice.
€ Rice root brush and towels for cleaning brand location.
Freeze Branding Procedure
1. Break up enough dry ice to cover the bottom of the container(s)
with at least two inches of ice. Pour enough alcohol over the ice to cover
the ice and the brands placed down in the ice. Add more ice and alcohol as
needed during the day. As soon as one is done using a brand place it back in
the ice and do not use again until bubbling stops.
2. Restrain the animal in the chute by the neck and tighten the
squeeze chute on the body as much as is possible.
3. Clip the hair in the area to be branded. In the winter or spring
use a sheep head clipper first, then clean the area with a brush, then
alcohol and a towel, followed by the other clipper with the surgical blade
to get the hair as short as possible. Again clean the area with the brush,
followed by alcohol and a towel to get the area absolutely clean.
4. Just before placing each and every brand, saturate the individual
brand site with alcohol from the mister to provide liquid contact between
the iron and the hide. This step is critical to obtaining a good brand
because alcohol will evaporate quickly.
5. Apply the brand to the hide for 75 seconds, all the time spraying
more alcohol on the brand with the mister every 10 seconds or so. This
technique has done more to improve our brands than an other single thing we
have changed in the thirty some years we have been freeze branding. Watch
the clock hanging beyond the chute to determine the elapsed time. Some have
suggest that it is not necessary to hold the brand on for 75 seconds, but
doing so will eliminate the possibility of any bad brands if other
procedures are followed properly.
Notes and Observations
Animals will react somewhat less to the super cooled iron as opposed to a
hot one, but they will still try to jump, usually about ten to fifteen
seconds into branding. If the brand is knocked off its location during
branding, just reapply and add an extra 5 seconds plus the time lost.
One will have a good idea if the brand is done properly if the hide area is
frozen stiff. You can determine this by taping with your fingernail. It
should feel like taping on a ice cube. It will take three to four weeks for
the brand to show up nicely.
Alcohol will migrate through a styrofoam cooler, but not a plastic one, so
plastic works best, however, I happen to have and use styrofoam ones. I
simply don¹t leave the alcohol in them over night. This will be the next
thing I change.
Make some arrangement where you put the irons back in the cooler each time
in the same place, after you have used them for the sake of efficiency.
Safety is very important, never let an iron, alcohol, or ice touch your skin
(it is 110 degrees below zero). Always wear good gloves while branding. Also
do not smoke because the alcohol is very flammable. Do not use a cattle
prod in the work area.
I do not recommend using gasoline with the dry ice for a coolant, as it is
even more flammable than a "alcohol. I also do not recommend antifreeze
because it will be too syrupy to work well. Plus, I also do not recommend
using liquid nitrogen as a coolant because it is 373 degrees below zero and
will kill the hair under the brand and leave a gray line around the edge of
the brand, which makes it a lot harder to read. Some have indicated that one
can get a white brand if the brand is held on just the right length of time,
but some brands do not turn out very good. It is even more dangerous to
work with liquid nitrogen.
The author of these instructions recommends you register a brand, get the
equipment, and start freeze branding. Not only will it deter thieves, but
you will appreciate the convenience of permanent, easy to read
identification.
Incidently, both hot and cold brands are now accepted replacements for
tattoos on Registered Angus Cattle.
The most important thing to get easily readable brands, is simply to take
the time to do it right. That is the reason for most all failures. If one
will brand all their heifers each year, in a few years the whole herd will
be branded.
References and Contact Information
Evan Rayl, along with his wife Shirley, operates Rayl Angus Farms, Inc. at
Bridgewater Iowa. He has been Angus breeder for 58 years and has served as
President of the Iowa Angus Association for two terms. Mr. Rayl has also
been the Editor of Livestock Plus for 12 years. Evan was taught to freeze
brand by Dr. Robert deBaca, who wrote the original "bible" of how to freeze
brand. You may contact Evan by phone at 641-369-4092 or by e-mail at
[email protected] n
 

littletom

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Make sure you give ample time in the cooler before you reuse on the next one. Get at least a 40 blade for the clippers. In my doing it comes out a lot better on heifers than old cows. The ones i did last year are clearer on the hip than the ribs.
 

pdfangus

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gizmom said:
We use dry ice have tried both LN and dry ice but feel more comfortable with dry ice. We tried to reused the alcohol one year and that was an epic FAIL.

Gizmom

reusing alcohol for the branding mixture is not a good idea....

however I rejugged it after it reached room temperature and saved it to use next year for wetting the brand area only....works well for that....

always use clean new alcohol for the branding mixture.
 

Stickney94

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pdfangus said:
reusing alcohol for the branding mixture is not a good idea....

however I rejugged it after it reached room temperature and saved it to use next year for wetting the brand area only....works well for that....

always use clean new alcohol for the branding mixture.

My father reused the same alcohol mixture for literally decades. Just periodically topping off the bottles with new. :D

In fact, I still have one of his bottles that I use.

I fish out the dry ice. Let the alcohol warm for a bit. Poor through a sieve into airtight containers about 3/4 full and very, very, VERY loosely screw on the tops to allow for expansion, evaporation and further warm-up.

I tighten the lids the next morning usually.

I'm due for some new alcohol this winter. I may try all new and see if I see a difference.
 

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