View Full Version : Branding - hot iron or freeze brand

07-01-05, 07:41 AM
Which method of branding do you recommend, hot iron or freeze branding? What are your reasons for your preference?

(I can't decide which method to use - breed soc. allows hot or freeze branding, & microchipping also).

07-01-05, 06:20 PM
I've heard, and I'm not sure if it's true, that hot branding has been banned by the RSPCA????

Freeze branding is the most commonly used these days, due to the high visibility of the brand and the more humane method with less trauma to the horse. After seeing both performed, I'd never use hot branding again, it's barbaric IMO.

I've got a WB mare who is microchipped for registration with AWSHA, but this doesn't give a visual ID, and to have her registered with the AWHA I need to get her freeze branded anyhow. So for me the drawback with microchipping is that there is no immediate visual brand. I've never scanned this mare myself, we don't have a microchip scanner, so I don't even know if the chip still works, or if it is still 'in situ'. They are supposed to be permanent, but I've heard lots of stories in ostriches of them migrating.

08-01-05, 04:49 AM
Hi Mandy, thanks for your advice.

Re microchipping, they should be inserted (by a vet) into the nuchal ligament in the neck (half way b/w poll & withers on left side). If they are fitted under the skin & not into the ligament they can migrate, but they do not migrate if put into the ligament. Some animals can not have them inserted this deep (eg cats & dogs) due to their smaller size, but horses can.

I must admit that I know a little about microchipping but not about branding!!


31-01-05, 01:17 PM
I think it depends on your experiences with both methods of branding. If you have an experienced, sensitive fire brander then this method is not traumatic for the horse. Fire branding can be very quick. The brand is on and off before the horse realises it. Although if you are multiple branding it is probably more traumatic. I believe that freeze branding is more traumatic because of the length of time the brand must stay on. The horse must be sedated or it too distressing. This is just my experience. Freeze branding also takes a while before the brand is visible but on the other hand, fire brands often become difficult to see. Lots of pros and cons both ways as I see it.

31-01-05, 01:42 PM
I recently bought an unbranded mare and went through the dilemma of what to do. Finally decided and went with the freeze brand found it to be quick with none of the burn problems of hot branding. D-C Freeze branding service were wonderful and very professional with their service.

01-02-05, 12:16 AM

I have used both hot & freeze branding. Not quite sure why people think freeze branding is more humane, it causes a burn also, but of the cold type, like minor frost bite.

I find that the hot brand is initially more painful, but very quick if done by a competent person & most of mine barely move, it is all over before they realize it. I also find that within a very short time, you are able to touch the brand & it doesn't appear to be painful.

The freeze brand must be applied for alot longer, & strangely, I assumed it would be painless, but my guys didn't like it at all. Also, the area of the freeze brand swells up some time later & appears to be quite sensitive for a while.

I have no experience with microchipping & it is a great idea in prinicpal, but doesn't allow someone to visually identify the horse & of course is only useful if a reader is available.


01-02-05, 02:13 AM
we fire brand - must say my babies don't find it traumatic. They barely move, no problems afterwards. The brand is only on for a few seconds, as compared to a freeze brand that a vet has to do ( more costs) & hold on for a minimum of 45secs.

Though I must say, I'm lucky that we can brand "inhouse" - my father & husband do the branding - so costs nothing as compared to freezebranding with the vet $$$.

Don't know what my call would be if I had to pay someone to do it either way - other things to consider - do you like being able to see the big white freezebrand, or the more subtle firebrand ? Vets love freezebrands as it makes it easy to ID.


03-02-05, 10:06 AM
Hi all,
We used to fire brand everything now we freeze-brand. We do not sedate anything and we find 21 seconds (yes it is that exact) makes a perfect configuration. I certainly find it much easier on the horses personally and experience has shown me that it is nigh on impossible to mutate or alter a freeze brand whereas some fire brands don't seem to take much alteration at all. Freeze brands if made correctly can be as small and discreet as any fire brand and a symbol in a freeze brand can be eye-catching (in a good way). That is my two cents worth. Good luck with your decision,

05-02-05, 05:02 AM
My experience is with Arabs and Anglos. I use to firebrand everything. Yes its quick but it is traumatic particularly the smell. Firebrands quite often fade with time and the quality of the brand was never as good. Recently I tried freezebranding and would never go back. The horse was far less traumatized and the wound is not so open as a firebrand. Usually a twitch will keep most of them still enough, however if you have to geld, do it then whilst they're out to it. As far as expense goes well the brand is on for life!!! I've seen some shocking firebrand blotchy scars(not mine). However I know it can be impractical for some to freezebrand. Also an added plus is freezebranding is not governed by bushfire regulations!

08-02-05, 06:36 AM
i would have to agree with you amanda. i don't think that one is more humane than the other.

while fire branding may look more cruel with the red hot iron, the branding is over almost instantly. freeze branding on the other hand, when you think about it, is giving the horse frost bite so bad that the skin blisters and the hair grows back white from the trauma.

the length of time taken to freeze brand a horse will also depend on the type of iron used. specially made copper freeze brand irons take a lot less time than using your standard steel iron, as it holds the cold better than the steel.

we use both types of brand. freeze brand for the stud brand (for visibility) and fire brand for their breed brands on their thigh and crest, which is standard procedure for the breed society.

i think that it really comes down to practicality and what you think is best to meet your (and your horse's!) needs.


17-03-05, 06:59 AM
Hi I use hot branding on all my Little ponys and they dont seem to be to stressed about it. We have a good branding person that takes his time when dealing with young horses or ponies as it can be very stressing for them having all sorts of things done at that time (halter trained , new places), he waits for them to settle and then he brands them.We have always had good brands done because of his method.no mistakes or mis hitting.
I like hot branding as the brands are harder to change if they are ever stolen ,as the area has to be re shaved and they have to try and hit the same spot just to make it a bit different and this can be noticed for weeks, Where as for freeze branding they can change the look of the old brand. More so on pintos or any light coloured horse or pony as the freeze branding doesnt tend to show up as much , it may only be raised for a day or 2.