This year’s freeze branding session is coming to a close, if farmers have not yet branded their cattle now is the time to do so. Realistically – cattle are not that easy to identify individually. At a glance, farmers want to be able to identify their animals so they can keep an eye out for animals showing signs of heat or those that may be showing signs of ill health.

Freeze branding allows the farmer to clearly view all these things and more on their individual animals accurately from a distance.
During the process a unique number is branded onto the animal’s hind with branding irons. This kills the pigment in the hair follicle and the hair grows back white. Freeze branding now plays a very important role in herd management and is obligatory for clear milk recording.

Freeze branding is often a more effective way of identifying the animals, as ear tags often get lost, the tag fades or eventually becomes unreadable due to dirt. There is a certain way in which freeze branding has to be done and in order to do so a professional is needed to carry out the procedure correctly.

When the goal is to get good clear readable brands dry ice and methylated spirits need to be used along with branding irons. Timing also plays a vital role and varies with age, weight and condition of the animal.

The advantages of freeze branding include:

• Freeze brands do not fall off or wear off
• The only permanent identification available for cows
• Ideal for identification in the milking parlour
• Easy to read from a distance
• Essential for stock identification
• Suitable for all animals but the younger the better
• With Dairy herds increasing in size it’s also harder to identify cattle in larger groups so in this case freeze branding is also essential for identification.

Farm relief services currently offer freeze branding and send out operators to help in branding the animals. It is advised that two sets of hands are available to secure the cow being branded. FRS can provide this extra help if required. For more information or to get an operator to head out to you contact FRS Roscrea on 0505 21166 or FRS Cahir on 052 7441598.

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