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The Evolution of Livestock Branding: Farming in South Africa

In the West cattle ranchers were rising to popularity along with their method of keeping track of their livestock which they learned from European travelers; branding. Agriculture in South Africa has also made use of this method throughout history. The earliest records of this practice dates all the way back to ancient Egypt.

What is a Livestock Brand?

Livestock brands are traditionally hot branded letters or symbols on an iron rod heated and burnt onto the hide of cattle. It can also be a tattoo or ear tag. Throughout history, we have moved from quite primitive methods to modernized and streamlined ones, like electric branding irons and freeze branding techniques.

Early Methods of Livestock Branding

In ancient Egypt, the practice of marking cattle to identify the owner of the livestock was introduced in approximately 2 700BCE. This is based on an uncovered tomb painting depicting cattle branding that was dated to around this time. There is even fleeting mention of it in the Bible when discussing Jacob the herdsman.

In the Americas, Spanish explorers introduced the practice and the three Latin crosses of a conquistador in southern Mexico in the 1500s which is the first known brand used in the Western Hemisphere.

The practice of branding reached North America where Texan ranchers who had come from England used the alphabet in their brands in the early 1800s.

Agriculture in South Africa Regulations Concerning Livestock Branding

The branding of livestock is a legal requirement in South Africa. Even if it has become indistinct overtime it must be reapplied to ensure the clarity of the brand. The Animal Identification Act of 2002 made it compulsory for all livestock to be marked as a first line of defense against theft as unmarked animals are much more likely to be stolen. The branding mark used as a method of identification needs to be registered at the Registrar of Animal Identification. This legal identification mark or branding makes it possible to trace the owner of lost or stolen cattle.

Cattle must be marked by the time they are 6 months old with either a traditional brand or a tattoo. Tattoos are applied to either ear while a brand must be visible anywhere on the body excluding the neck.

Electric Branding Methods

Farming in South Africa has seen the rise of farm suppliers and farmers alike showing a preference for electric branding like that done by Ratsbrand. The use of an electric brander reduces the stress it causes the animal by making it a quick and seamless process.

For more reliable farming suppliers that provide agricultural products to modernize farming in South Africa visit the AgrifoodSA Directory. Alternatively, you can contact us directly for more information.

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