Applying Brands: Branding Irons

Always Use Good Quality Materials

It is recommended that you construct each character of a brand on a separate handle. When you place two or more characters on one handle, they will heat and burn unevenly. A brand like that also tends to slip when you apply it, leaving a distorted or blotched brand.

Every branding iron should be constructed with good quality steel, heavy enough to hold heat. Handles should be made from 1/2 inch rod and be approximately 4 feet long from the head of the iron to the handle loop. When not in use, store branding irons in a dry place. Keep the iron head clean and smooth by using a wire brush or file.

Branding Irons For Cattle

The Size of the Iron is Important

For calves less than one year of age, we recommend that each character be 3 inches high and 3 inches wide (outside measurements).

For grown cattle, it is recommended to use an iron 4 inches high and 3-1/2 inches wide.
To the left you can view a diagram of a single character branding iron.
The metal used to build the face of the branding iron should be 2 inches deep by 1/2 inch thick. Work the face of the branding surface down to not less than 3/8 inch thick. If the burning face is too narrow, it won’t disrupt enough hair follicles to create a visible brand after hairing over. Also, round the edges and corners of the brand face. Rounding it will narrow the face a bit, but it will leave the center of the burning face slightly higher and leave a concave effect on the surface of the skin to be branded.

If two or more pieces of metal join to make the iron’s face, file or cut a notch at least 1/4 inch deep at the joint to allow some heat to escape. The notch prevents too much heat from being applied at these points. This will prevent blotching.

A good brand warps or dislocates the hair follicles located under several layers of skin. The new hair grows in at a different angle from that of the original hair, thus leaving the brand visible.

Branding Irons For Horses 

Special Considerations

Horsehide is much thinner than cowhide. It is recommended that a branding iron for horses be 2 inches high and 1-1/2 inches wide. The face of the iron should be 3/16 inch wide.
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