Cross-branding rules

Purchased cattle are often cross-branded incorrectly, leaving the purchaser open to prosecution or having no legal claim to the purchased stock.

Note: It is not compulsory to cross-brand purchased stock. But if you choose to, this page explains how to cross-brand correctly.

Legal points

  • Your registered horse and cattle brand may only be imprinted on previously branded cattle
    • in any of the prescribed positions - neck, rump, shoulder, thigh or twistor
    • in the same position as the previous brand. If it is imprinted in the same position, it must be placed at the same angle and immediately beneath the last brand not closer than 35mm or more than 65mm.
  • It is illegal to place a brand on the ribs or cheek of cattle.
  • If a lazy letter is incorporated in a three-piece brand, then this lazy letter is to be permanently affixed to another character in the brand. This is aimed at minimising the chance of incorrect branding through the sideways letter being imprinted on the opposite side that is in the brand - for example in H2 the 2 and H are on the same handle.
  • Branding irons should be made exactly in accordance with the description on the certificate of registration. No distortion or modification is permissible. In some letters and numerals, bars or serifs are attached to the extremities as an aid in the detection of altered brands (e.g. F V C.).
  • Stock on which the brand has been altered or blotched are deemed to be unbranded.
  • Purchased cattle with no earmarks may be earmarked provided they are branded with the brand with which the earmark is registered. Previously earmarked cattle cannot be re-earmarked.

Practical points

Symbol brands are easier to apply as cross-brands but are not always easily read and understood. Three-piece brands may be more easily read than symbol brands but may be more difficult to apply correctly.

The brand must be readable to ensure correct identification.

  • Select open letters, numerals and designs for your brand (e.g. H J 5 7). Open units allow more air flow preventing blotching.
  • Replace worn, thin-edged branding irons. Thin-edged irons either burn too deeply causing crusting or leave the brand too fine to be read easily. A 3-4mm width edge is required.
  • Do not overheat the iron. Red-hot irons light up the hair, which can blemish the brand.
  • Do not use an iron which is too cool, either. Such irons are generally held on for too long and cook the total area leaving an unreadable brand.
  • Do not brand when the hide is wet. Wet branding results in scalding.
  • Restrain stock securely for branding. A squeeze crush is ideal for harder-to-handle adult stock.