Applying Brands: Freeze Branding
The Right Way To Brand
Branding irons for freeze branding can be made from copper or good quality steel. Construct the head of the iron the same way as a hot iron, except use thick, deep metal to get the most benefit from the liquid used to keep the iron cold. The handle can be approximately 12 to 15 inches long. Each freeze brand character should be at least 2-1/2 inches high and 2 inches wide. The metal used should be 1-1/4 inches deep by 3/16 inch thick. The face of the branding surface must be at least 1/2 inch thick with well-rounded corners.
An insulated container large enough to hold enough wood alcohol or methyl hydrate to completely cover the head of the irons will be needed. Also needed will be a good supply of dry ice to cool the liquid to a temperature of –90Fº to –100Fº.
Place the branding irons in the liquid and start adding dry ice. Gloves are needed to handle the dry ice. When the alcohol stops bubbling, the irons are cold enough to apply. Keep the container holding the liquid and dry ice covered as much as possible to prevent the liquid from evaporating. Add more alcohol occasionally to replace what evaporates and more dry ice to keep the alcohol as cold as possible.
The photo to the left demonstrates the results of freeze branding.
Whatever the animal’s age or amount of hair, clip the hair short on the area you want to freeze brand. After the hair has been clipped, wash the area with alcohol to remove any dirt or dust on the hide. Restrain the livestock to keep them from moving around too much.
Apply the cold iron very firmly using two hands to press evenly on the entire brand character. When done, you will have an area indented enough to let you run your finger around the brand design. This is one way to tell that you have a good brand.
The colour pigment of the hair is destroyed by the cold branding. After the freeze brand is applied, the branded area will swell the same as with frostbite. Within several days, the swelling will disappear and there will be no evidence of any brand at all. A small amount of dead skin will be evident in about 7-10 days, but the brand won’t be visible again until the brand design is outlined by the re-growth of white hair on the branded area. The result should show the brand in white hair, making the brand visible during all seasons of the year.
The freeze branding method described above is the least expensive method. To get a colder iron requiring slightly less time to apply, a semen tank using liquid nitrogen as a cooling liquid gives the best results.