Brand Identity

How far do the tentacles of an intrusive government reach?

Apparently all the way to the ranges of Utah and other western states. The UDSA wants to eliminate cattle branding as a means of identification and impose a more expensive and less effective tagging system.

Cattle branding ritual endures as Western ranchers await new regulations on animal ID

OAKLEY, Summit County — Shortly after sunrise Wednesday, Ken Woolstenhulme drove about 2 ½ hours to collect 19 yearling steers his family had purchased at auction earlier in the week. Then he turned around and hauled them home.

By late afternoon, the cattle had been unloaded into a pen as he and his son, Wade, and grandson, Paden, prepared to inoculate, tag and brand them.

As light rain fell, the men drove the yearling steers into a branding chute. Woolstenhulme, 81, clipped off neat patches from their heavy winter coats where he would apply an electronic iron shaped in the design of the family brand. While he attended to branding, his 14-year-old grandson kept a firm grip on each steer’s tail to keep them still while Wade Woolstenhulme maneuvered a syringe and devices to remove the former owners’ ear tags. Then he snapped on tags with the mark of the family ranch.

“It’s just like getting your ears pierced,” he said.

Some of the steers took it better than others. One rambunctious steer bolted for the exit, rearing up on his hind legs, snorting and mooing. After a few minutes of coaxing and a little pushing, the steer settled back into the chute.

“If we have to fight like that for all of them, we’ll be here all night,” the elder Woolstenhulme cracked.

Branding is a centuries-old practice on ranches throughout the West, primarily to identify livestock by its owner and to prevent the animals’ theft.

But in recent years, Western cattle producers have been concerned that this longtime practice would no longer be recognized by federal regulators. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a draft of new regulations that would eliminate the hot-iron brand as a means of official identification for cattle sold or shipped across state lines.

Ranchers interpreted the regulations, as originally proposed, to mean that for federal purposes, an eartag would be the preferred form of identification. Ranchers in Western states have pushed back, saying new identification requirements would cut into already thin profit margins and that eartags can easily be removed by thieves or dislodged by livestock.

The Woolstenhulme’s have it right:

Ken Woolstenhulme said he uses eartags within his herd to distinguish one animal from another. “We number them so if you rope one and doctor it for pink eye or foul foot, you know if it’s been medicated or if it’s a different one.”

But the Woolstenhulmes are resistant to any further animal identification requirements from the federal regulators who may not understand the particular needs of cattle ranchers whose stock graze on the open range.

“The government doesn’t know half of what it ought to,” the elder Woolstenhulme said.

“It’s people back East, like those PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) people, who come up with those rules.”

His son, a middle-school administrator, added, “They think all of their food comes from the grocery store.”

This is just one example of government micromanagement by bureaucrats, something to be expected in the Brave New World. It is probably uniquely that the people promulgating these rules can conceptualize that the majority of the population lives in a line down I-15 from Ogden in the north to Provo in the south. At one time, over 80% of the state’s population lived in this area. The population of the state vs area is 1 person per 25 square miles. Cattle roam the open range there, no fences…

3 thoughts on “Brand Identity

  1. Not a bit more safe to eat……but it will make the nutty govt officials more happy because even though it will cause a rise in beef prices, to them it will represent a more ethical treatment of the animals we eat. Eventually, they will disallow slaughter of these beefy critters.

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