the freeze branding process
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Wondering how to freeze brand, what method to use, and exactly how to get the job done? We've published our PROVEN branding methods so you can feel confident every step of the way. There are folks out there that will charge you per horse to brand, but it costs very little to do it yourself and is fairly simple, and certainly fun! Simply click on the link to the right, and download the pdf. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions on the process!
We get a lot of questions from people regarding the process, and how freeze branding works. In short, the difference between hot and freeze branding, is that in the former, you're actually killing all the hair follicles so that the skin appears bald. In the latter, you're only killing the color-producing part of the follicle, so that the hair that grows back comes in white. The freeze branding method has multiple advantages over hot branding, including being easier on the animal (no open wounds), and being more visible both from a distance, and during the winter with a long hair coat. Many people (ourselves included) also believe freeze branding enhances the animal's overall appearance, and it's been proven to give them a higher resale value.
In the paragraphs below we detail exactly what you can expect when branding your animals, and we describe what freeze branding is and an overview of how it works. Keep in mind that our full branding instructions, detailing our proven method, are included with every freeze brand that we sell.
Please note: It is illegal in many states to apply an unregistered brand denoting ownership to an animal. Each state has its own brand laws and registration requirements, usually charging a small separate fee. We are familiar with many of the states requirements, email us for help getting your brand registered!
you can still freeze brand a white animal
Have a white, or light colored animal? Freeze branding is still possible, you simply leave the iron on a bit longer, to kill the entire hair follicle, producing the same effect as a hot brand, but with less trauma on the animal. The graphic below is an illustration to help you understand the anatomy of the skin.
The skin of the animal contains millions of hairs which make up the animals coat. The picture at left shows an enlarged, simplified drawing of one hair shaft with its color (pigment) producing follicle (CF) and its growth follicle (GF), both shown below the skin. Under normal circumstances hair grows as a clear shaft (like a clear straw) from the GF. On colored animals, pigment (black, brown, red, yellow etc.) is added from the CF below the skin to the clear hairshaft, which gives the hair its color.
Under normal circumstances hair grows as a clear shaft (like a clear straw) from the GF. On colored animals, pigment (black, brown,red, yellow etc.) is added from the color follicle below the skin to the clear hairshaft, which gives the hair its color.
When the intensely cold iron used in freeze branding is placed on the skin for the correct time and at the correct pressure, the cold temperatures destroys the color follicle's at the brand site so they no longer can produce pigment; however, the hair still continues to grow if the growth follicles were left undamaged. The result is that hair at the brand site contains no pigment and appears white. This is the desired result-a uniform, white brand. If the iron is pressed to the skin for a shorter period of time and/or with less pressure that required, some hairs grow in colored and some hairs grow in white, so the brand has a streaked appearance. If the iron is held on a longer period of time, the cold destroys the growth follicle's as well, so that no hair grows at all. On light colored animals the bald is desirable because the dark skin with no hair shows up better that a white brand.
The Progression of a Freeze Brand
Hover over, or click on images for a description of the photo.
There are two different options available if you would like to freeze brand your own animals. You may choose either dry ice/alcohol or liquid nitrogen. We prefer liquid nitrogen, and find it is generally worth the extra effort to obtain, due to the fact that the branding times are shorter and the temperature much lower. In addition, liquid nitrogen is fairly inexpensive if you can find a welding supply or AI facility that will allow you to rent or borrow the container used to transport it.
Dry Ice and Alcohol
Alcohol will be needed for this branding method. Among refrigerants used are methyl, ethyl, or isopropyl alcohol. It is very important that any alcohol used be 99% in strength or it will turn to slush at the extremely low temperature needed (approximately 160 to 180 degrees below zero). Acetone is another very good refrigerant, because it is clear and the quantity of dry ice in the container is always visible. Some of the suppliers of acetone are drug companies, welding supply firms and animal health supplies. After extensive use, alcohol will loose strength because of its tendency to absorb moisture. Alcohol should be changed after branding approximately 150 head of livestock. Care should be taken when handling 99% alcohol, due to the fact that it is extremely flammable.
Liquid nitrogen is a very good coolant and will cool to a temperature of approximately 240 to 250 degrees below zero. Liquid nitrogen is available through artificial insemination organizations and welding supply firms. Care should be taken when handling liquid nitrogen because of its extremely cold temperature.