Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday encore ~ The mysterious case of the missing freeze brands

The coolest thing about having a blog ... besides getting to know all of you ... is being able to look back at what I was doing last year at this time, or the year before that, or the year before that. In June 2009 when I wrote this post, I discovered something new about my beloved burros. And before you ask, no, I haven't gotten the tattoo...yet.

Ever since I adopted George and Alan from the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro program in October 2007, something has been amiss.

Upon capture, all BLM animals are supposed to be freeze-branded with a registration number on the left side of their neck. When I brought George and Alan home, I looked and looked, but they were brandless.

A freeze brand is a permanent ID that serves as a return address for lost or stolen livestock. Unlike a hot branding iron, which burns the animal, freeze branding is allegedly painless. The branding iron is dipped in liquid nitrogen, making it intensely cold, and placed on the animal's neck for 15 - 20 seconds. The cold branding iron kills the pigment-producing cells, so the hair under the brand grows back white.

The BLM's freeze brands are based on the International Alpha Angle System, which incorporates a series of angles and alpha-symbols that cannot be altered.

All the mustangs at the BLM auction I attended a few months ago had freeze brands.

According to George's and Alan's registration papers, if they had freeze brands, they would look like this:
I think these freeze brands are pretty cool and frankly was a little bummed that George and Alan didn't have theirs. Were they both so clever that they escaped the branding chute? I can easily picture them cutting out and running to the back of the line over and over again.

But a few weeks ago, as if by magic, a few white hairs appeared on George's neck. Then a few more. Was I imagining things, or was a freeze brand finally starting to appear? I gave it a few more days, then became convinced that I was seeing a pattern of white hairs. Then the same thing happened on Alan's neck.

I decided to pull out the clippers and get to the bottom of this mystery. Fearless George stood bravely while I shaved off the hair on his neck for the big reveal.

Not-so-fearless Alan wasn't ready for the clippers, so I did the best I could with a pair of scissors. As the white hairs grow out, his brand should get easier to read.

If George or Alan ever become lost, stolen, or otherwise separated from the 7MSN, their brands will prove that they are registered to me. Or is it the other way around? I've always wanted a little tattoo...


  1. I remember that post and the cool tattoo's .. I like the alpha angle code interpretation. I mean what burro wants an ordinary tattoo? How boring that would be.

    I'm with you Carson ... haven't gotten a tattoo, yet. I keep thinking about it though!

  2. Very interesting. They are so lucky to be where they are. Like they had the winning numbers.

  3. I'll show you mine if you show me yours ;-) Go for it, Carson!

  4. Cool! (I guess literally and figuatively!)

    And I've always wanted to get a tattoo, too. I'll get one if you do! You go first :)

  5. That sounds so much nicer than the hot brands! I still shudder when I think of all the western movies I've watched over the years where cowboys tossed animals down and held a sizzling hot brand to their skins - makes me shudder now!!

    Nancy (tattoo-less) in Iowa

  6. If you get one, I'll get one too. I think this would go nicely with the tattoo I have of Kassie's paw print. :)

  7. It's nice to know they have a permanent ID to prove they're yours. Freeze branding is way better than hot! I'll pass on the tatoos-it seems everyone has at least one these days. I prefer to remain different in my own way. LOL

  8. Dulcie sends a "high-hoof" to her long eared brothers. :)

    I think her tattoo is cool too....and while I have always wanted a tattoo as well I don't think it would be near as cool on me....besides where would it fit.....OH! I know, across my backside...:P

    Maybe all of the people that have been wanting to get a tattoo should take an oath to get one and we can do a post of all the new tattoos...would be interesting. :)

  9. For Friday's question period! Would you get a tattoo to match your two furry friends? I think these symbols are interesting.
    Best always, Sandra

  10. If I didn't know the code I'd think the boys had some sort of heiroglyphics tattooed on them, maybe they're both princes from an ancient line of burros :)

  11. No tats for me but I think the boys' are pretty cool!

  12. Okay, I think Wrensong Farm has a great idea. I would seriously be in!

    And I think Wade is on to something, too. Prince Alan and Prince George. Sounds nice :)

  13. My horse was a registered Welsh Section D Cob so he was freeze marked. I hate to see beautiful horses with that mark on their neck, and my Dad agreed so we had his under the saddle area.

    I can confirm he stood there, cool as a cucumber while the mark was placed on his back and he was quite a feisty five-year-old at this point! His 'girlfriend', however, fainted but she was very highly strung so I think it was more stress than the sensation caused by the process that sent her weak at the knees :).

    I wouldn't be able to resist coloring that mark with something in vivid pink like 'Manic Panic' dye if it were me :P.