Nebraska Livestock Brand Inspection

The system of brand inspection in operation at the large market centers, where branded stock from the western ranges are shipped for sale and distribution, is the outgrowth of organization among the range cattle owners. The branding of cattle and horses became a necessity years ago, when the ranges began to fill up and the herds commenced to encroach upon each other's grazing territory. The mixing of unbranded stock demanded more than individual recognition; a mark placed upon the animal by a burning brand was by common consent brought into general use. Not only was it found convenient to satisfy disputes of ownership of animals between neighboring ranchmen, but it served the purpose of detection often when the branded animals were stolen and driven off their owner's range.

The duplicating of brands became a matter of much concern among ranchmen as the herds began to multiply and the range country fill up with stock. To obviate this difficulty a system of recording brands was introduced, some states adopting a county register, while others had brand laws enacted providing for the registering of all brands at the state capital.

Nebraska at first used the county register system of filing claims for brands with the County Clerk, but later had a State brand law passed, which is now in successful operation. All brands are now filed with the Secretary of State, and no two persons can secure the registering of the same brand, and no brand is a legal brand unless registered.

There is no State provision or law for brand inspection in Nebraska, this being provided for entirely through the two range stock associations in the State, the Nebraska Live Stock Growers' Association, with headquarters at Alliance, and the Keya Paha Cattle Growers' Association, at Ainsworth. These two Associations employ their brand inspection through the Wyoming Live Stock Association, which keeps an inspector at South Omaha, Chicago, Sioux City, St. Joseph and Kansas City, and handles the inspection for South Dakota, the Nebraska Associations and the State of Wyoming. Only members of these Associations who pay into their Association fund their annual assessments are able to receive benefits from the inspection. The inspectors receive from the Secretaries of the various Associations, or states making appropriations for such inspection, a list of the brands of the persons entitled to its benefits. This brand book contains the name and address of each person entitled to protection and an exact copy of each brand.

A person to fill the position of brand inspector must of necessity be an expert in deciphering brands at sight. The work of the brand inspector is done on horseback, and before the yarded cattle commence to sell and move to the scales. If strays are found they are separated from the bunch, sold separate, and the commission firm whose consignment they were in, charges up a proportionate amount of freight, yardage, commission, etc., against the animals and holds the proceeds subject to release by the inspector, to go into the hands of the owner of the cattle, or to the Secretary of the Association furnishing the brand.

All cattle carrying uncertain brands, or where there is a doubt as to a brand being on, in the care of the inspector, the animal is roped, quickly made secure, and a pair of clippers applied over the brand, and the surface of the skin exposed to view. It is believed that very few stray cattle escape detection from the critical eye of the inspector. It is reasonably certain that this system of checking, with the detective methods adopted by the Stock Growers' Associations in the range districts, has practically put a stop to cattle and horse rustling. It is almost an impossibility for a shipment of stolen cattle to get through the yards at any of the points where the brand inspection is employed, without detection. The work of the brand inspection department at South Omaha is presented as follows.

For the period April 1, 1902, to April 1, 1903, number of strays arrested and proceeds of sales returned direct to owners of stock by the commission firms:

Wyoming 2,856 $ 96,532.80
South Dakota 1,963 70,275.40
Nebraska 1,239 36,696.46
Total 6,058 $203,504.66

Number arrested and proceeds returned to owners through Secretaries of the Stock Growers' Associations:

Number. Value.
Wyoming- 1.151 $ 38,922.81
Nebraska 145 4,344.35
South Dakota 1,086 , 38,879.17
Total 2,382 $ 82,146.33

Making a grand total for the year, for these three states, 7,440 head, and a net sale to owners of $285,650.58.

Wyoming was the first State to commence brand inspection. This was introduced at the South Omaha Stock Yards by the Wyoming Association, April 1, 1892, and down to the present year, April 1, 1903, has had 61,784 head of stock caught up by the South Omaha brand inspectors, yielding a net return to the owners of $1,798,343.28.

South Dakota adopted the brand inspection in 1893, and through the Wyoming inspection at South Omaha has had down to April 1, 1903, 16,941 head of stock arrested, producing a net return to the owners of $615,878.91.

Nebraska did not arrange for brand inspection until 1899, and through the same agency at South Omaha had, from that year down to April 1, 1903, 3,119 cattle arrested, yielding a net return to the owners of $102,348.06.

The entire brand inspection at South Omaha, with the States named, commencing at 1892, shows a total of 80,844 head of strays arrested, yielding to their owners, after all expenses of freight, commission, etc., have been deducted, $2,516,569.84.

Notwithstanding that Nebraska has more than double the cattle population of South Dakota, there was arrested at South Omaha the past year 700 more strays for South Dakota than Nebraska. Nebraska's cattle population is almost five times that of Wyoming, yet there were two and a half times more strays arrested the past year at South Omaha for Wyoming, a fact which is explained by the additional security that the fenced range of Nebraska offers to the livestock business over the more open districts.

The Western Nebraska cattle raiser is comparatively free from loss by strays and stolen cattle. The opportunities to engage in the business are numerous, and the advantages offered have no equal in any other section of range country.

Nebraska AHGP

A Condensed History of Nebraska for fifty years to date, Compiled by Geo. W. Hervey, Editor, and Published by Nebraska Farmer Co., Omaha, Nebraska, 1903.

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