Branding is one of the oldest and best ways to permanently identify livestock. It serves as an excellent safeguard against livestock theft, loss or dispute. In fact, the International Livestock Identification Association considers livestock brands to be as important as return addresses on mail.
Registering Livestock Brands
Legislation passed in 1971 made the Missouri Department of Agriculture responsible for registering livestock brands. Brands must be recorded as required by Missouri’s Marks and Brands of Animal Law to prove ownership and be considered legal evidence in a court of law.
Under the law, individuals can register new brands or they can apply to use brands that have not been used for five years. The state will reject a brand if that particular design already is registered. The brand can be registered for use on the shoulder, rib or hip on either side of the animal. The left or right side is determined by standing behind the animal. Brands must be three (3) inches or larger in diameter.
In Missouri, it is a felony to brand someone else’s animals or to efface, deface or obliterate any livestock brand. It also is illegal to use any brand for branding horses, cattle sheep, mules or asses unless the brand has been recorded with the Department of Agriculture. For identification within the herd, livestock can be branded with unregistered Arabic numbers if they are used in conjunction with recorded brands. Brands used for identification within the herd are not considered proof of ownership.
Once brands are recorded with the Department of Agriculture they become the personal property of the owner. Registered brands may be transferred from one individual to another. When transferring a brand, the back of the certificate must be signed and notarized, then sent to the department along with the required transfer fee. A notarized document that proves a brand was sold, assigned or transferred will be accepted in lieu of the brand certificate.
In 1992, changes to the brand law made cryo-branding or freeze-branding legal and gives it the same status as hot-iron branding. Freeze branding is considered less painful for animals and shows up well on dark-colored livestock.
The fees for registering a brand are as follows:
- Registration fee: $35
- Maintenance fee: $20
- Transfer fee: $10
- Additional copies of brand certificate: $10