Branding livestock has been practiced in America since Cortez put his three crosses on his horses in 1519. The oldest brand registered in America was established in Mexico in 1530. Brands can be traced back to as early as 1900 B.C. in Egypt. The first stock to be branded in what is now the United States came to California in 1769 and the mid 1800 to Texas.
In the 1860’s my ancestors branded their stock in the Great Basin and their children all continued the practice through the generations to my children all having individual brands for their stock.
Brands need to be simple and easy to read, but not so simple that they can be altered easily, and not so congested that they will blotch. I don’t care for a brand to be too loud. I like a small subtle brand with straight lines and curves because they are more difficult to alter. I got my Y6 brand in my early teens for the cattle my Dad helped me get started with and I have been branding my horses and cattle with it ever since.
Range stock are usually going away from you when you get close enough to read a brand, therefore a hip iron is easier to see than a rib or shoulder brand. That is why most of the old ranchers preferred to brand on the hip. My brand is high on the left hip of cattle and on the left gaskin muscle of a horse. The tall narrow lines of the Y6 fit nicely on the gaskin. That is where I brand everything I raise and if I purchase something the brand is placed on the flat area on the side of the hip.
This is not an old family brand and I only know of one other ranch in the western states that use it and I don’t see many brands that it can be altered to. Today we don’t hear of people altering brands like they did years ago, but to me prevention is worth more than a cure. It is just a simple, practical, and effective brand.
Often we see today a brand as a logo someone dreamed up, and I wonder if they actually have any idea how difficult it would be to stamp their “brand” without blotching it, or if they were actually handy enough to run it on and have it resemble their intentions when they were done.
Personally I don’t care for freeze brands, my feeling is that a good horse will draw enough attention that people will notice a hot iron, where as you can identify a dink at a distance along with the freeze brand.