2016 Spring Branding on Blue Valley Ranch
As winter finally begins to wane in the high country, most western ranches officially kick-off spring with a ranching tradition as old as ranching itself in Western North America. The spring branding brings together the entire ranch staff to help out as well as neighbors and friends from across the valley. In fact, the branding is often the first time neighbors have seen each other in months due to the time-consuming duties of calving (and shoveling snow, of course).
In addition to being a social event (usually involving a great barbeque for lunch), the branding is also an important opportunity to evaluate the health of calves and cows alike before turning them out to spring pastures. Doctoring is a lot more difficult on the range, so addressing budding health problems now in a controlled setting pays off over the next few months.
The primary purpose of the branding is, of course, to mark livestock with proof of ownership, which is required under Colorado law. While other identifiers like ear tags help the rancher identify individual animals, only the brand is recognized as a permanent proof of ownership for livestock across the West. This is important as there is still such a thing as cattle rustling in the West, which costs the livestock industry millions every year.
Of all ranching traditions, the spring branding is unique in that it is important economically, socially, and culturally. As with most industries, agriculture will continue to change with new methods and new technologies, but it’s nice to see some traditions survive the ages.
Special thanks to One Oak Photography for the wonderful photos!
Tags: agriculture, branding, cattle, ranching