Teaching Animal Unit
Steps for successful freeze branding
Step 1. Cool irons for 20 minutes before using them on the first animal. The alcohol or liquid nitrogen should cover the head of iron by at least one inch. Bubbling or boiling of the alcohol should have stopped or be minimal prior to applying the irons. Note: the frost line on handles of the irons indicates irons are ready. Re-cool irons for 2 minutes between each use.
Step 2. Restrain the animal in a headgate and squeeze chute (preferred). Clip the hair from the area to be branded. Standard cattle clippers work well close clipping is best. On the hip between the hook and pin bones is the preferred location for freeze brands. Brush the clipped area to remove dirt and loose hair.
Step 3. Saturate the branding area with alcohol. You may need a brush to work the alcohol all the way to the skin.
Step 4. Immediately apply the freeze-branding iron on the animal. The iron must move directly from the coolant to the animal. Apply very firm pressure to the iron. Hold the iron on the area and don't let it slip. The area will quickly become numb and the animal will experience minimal discomfort. Rocking the iron gently from top to bottom and side to side will make a better brand. Have an assistant keep track of time so the branding irons are in place for the desired length of time. The application of only one iron at a time is recommended.
Step 5. Remove the iron from the animal and immediately place the iron in the coolant for re-cooling. Remember, it takes about 2 minutes to re-cool the iron to proper temperature before applying the same iron again.
A good brand will show up as an indented number on the animal immediately after branding. Within a few minutes, the area will swell creating a raised version of the brand.
The swelling will subside in a few hours. In two to four weeks the area will begin to peel. This is normal and unpigmented hair will grow back in its place.
When branding is done correctly, freeze brands will last the life of the animal. On animals with heavy winter coats, the brand may have to be clipped for easier reading. A quality branding job makes identification of animals for estrous detection or health treatment quick, easy, and accurate.