April 4, 2011
However, in regard to livestock identification, the USDA APHIS website states:"Livestock identification in the United States has been documented in large animal production industries dating back to the late 1800's and early 1900's. Cattle ranchers, to indicate ownership and deter theft, first used hot iron branding. Swine producers for registration and record keeping purposes used ear notches for individual animal identification. These two methods are rapidly losing popularity due to concerns about humane treatment of animals and a decrease in product value."2
So, while hot-iron branding currently plays an integral role in disease control it is also recognized as less welfare friendly than other forms of identification.
Similarly, New Zealand has developed an animal welfare code for sheep and beef cattle that states:"Sheep and beef cattle are usually identified by earmarking (or notching), by ear tagging or less commonly by permanent identification such as freeze or hot branding. These procedures cause pain and the general principles outlined in the Animal Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) 2005 Code of Welfare should be followed.
Minimum Standard No. 13 – Identification(a) All identification procedures must be applied by a competent operator.(b) Hot branding must only be used with pain relief.
Recommended Best Practice(a) If ear marking is performed, as little as possible and no more than 10% of ear tissue should be removed, using an implement that is clean and sharp.(b) Freeze branding should only be used with pain relief.(c) Care should be taken when applying an eartag to avoid hitting the cartilage ridges or major blood vessels."13
The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is converting its Model Codes of Practice into the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines.14 The Model Code on cattle states:"5.7 Identification5.7.1 Ear-tagging, ear-marking, ear-notching, ear-tattooing, udder-tattooing, udder-implanting, freeze-branding, photography and radio frequency identification devices (RFID – e.g. microchips) are the preferred methods of identifying cattle from a welfare viewpoint. In some situations, however fire branding may be the only practical method of permanently identifying cattle. As State/Territories may have differing regulatory requirements for cattle identification, these should be checked. Cheek (face) branding is illegal in some States.5.7.2 Cattle must not be branded with corrosive chemicals."15
aMontana http://liv.mt.gov/liv/ah/orders/0801i.pdf, Nevada http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NAC/NAC-571.html#NAC571Sec002, and Oregon http://egov.oregon.gov/ODA/AHID/animal_health/import_cattle.shtmlbIdaho http://adm.idaho.gov/adminrules/rules/idapa02/0421.pdfcNFACC is the culmination of over 4 years of discussion amongst diverse groups of stakeholders on the value of a national approach for farm animal care. http://www.nfacc.ca/AboutNFACC.aspx
1Branding. Dictionary.com. Available at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/branding Accessed February 22, 2010.2USDA APHIS. Animal identification information. Available at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/animal_id/ Accessed February 22, 2010.3Schwartzkopf-Genswein KS, and Stookey JM. The use of infrared thermography to assess inflammation associated with hot-iron and freeze branding in cattle. Can J Anim Sci. 1997;77:577-583.4Lay DC, Friend TH, Randel RD, Bowers CL, Grissom KK and Jenkins OC. Behavioral and physiological effects of freeze or hot-iron branding in crossbred cattle. J Anim Sci. 1992;70:330-338. Available at: http://jas.fass.org/cgi/reprint/70/2/330 Accessed June 8, 2010.5Schwartzkopf-Genswein KS, Stookey JM, Crowe TG and Genswein BMA. Comparison of image analysis, exertion forces, and behavioural measurements for use in the assessment of beef cattle responses to hot-iron and freeze branding. J Anim Sci. 1998;76:972-979. Available at: http://jas.fass.org/cgi/reprint/76/4/972 Accessed June 8, 2010.6Morton DB and Griffiths PHM. Guidelines on the recognition of pain, distress and discomfort in experimental animals and an hypothesis for assessment. Vet. Rec. 1985;116:431-436.7Rushen, J. Problems associated with the interpretation of physiological data in the assessment of animal welfare. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 1991;28:381-386.8Lay DC, Friend TH, Bowers CL, Grissom KK and Jenkins OC. A comparative physiological and behavioral study of freeze and hot-iron branding using dairy cows. J. Anim. Sci. 1992;70:1121-1125. Available at: http://jas.fass.org/cgi/reprint/70/4/1121 Accessed June 8, 2010.9Schwartzkopf-Genswein KS, Stookey JM and Welford R. Behavior of cattle during hot-iron and freeze branding and the effects on subsequent handling ease. J. Anim. Sci. 1997;75:2064-2072. Available at: http://jas.fass.org/cgi/reprint/75/8/2064 Accessed June 8, 2010.10Lay DC, Friend TH, Randel RD, Bowers CL, Grissom KK and Mal ME. Effects of freeze or hot-iron branding of Angus calves on some physiological and behavioral indicators of stress. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 1992;33:137-14711Code of Federal Regulations 2009. Title 9 Chapter 1. Available at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/cfr.php?title=9&type=chapter&value=1 Accessed: July 14, 2010.12The National Farm Animal Care Council of Canada has a Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals: beef cattle. Available at: http://www.nfacc.ca/pdf/english/BeefCattle1991.pdf Accessed: July 14, 2010.13New Zealand Animal Welfare (Sheep and Beef Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010. Available at: http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/files/regs/animal-welfare/req/codes/sheep-beef-cattle/sheep-beef-cattle-code-2010.pdf Accessed: July 14, 2010.14Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines http://www.agriculture.gov.au/animal/welfare/standards-guidelines Accessed: November 16, 2015.15Australia Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Cattle. Available at: http://www.publish.csiro.au/Books/download.cfm?ID=4831 Accessed: July 14, 2010.