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View Full Version : Branding is it Cruel and unusual?



Kilronan
08-03-11, 08:32 AM
So my attention has been drawn to a facebook page to attempt to stomp out Branding, I would love to see the opinions of the Cyberhorse brainís trust on this.
From what I have seen Freeze branding is relatively painless and Branding is generally done with an anethestic on horses done these dayís anyway?

How do you feel about it, I know the EFA etc accepts just microchips and my breed society does not require Branding but I have heard of quite a few animals where the microchip has moved or they can be cut out? There is no across the board database for horse micro chipping that I am aware of, and in the situation where my dog was stolen he was microchipped and unless the animal is reported as stolen then anyone could have taken him to the vets and had it changed i.e. before I got a chance to report it.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Stop-Horse-Branding/146815235381725

I donít have a personal agenda or firm position on this topic just thought it would be an interesting conversation.

join the dots
08-03-11, 09:04 AM
I think mircro chipping is a nicer option...I realise that it is then not as easy to identify animals at sight but branding is also no guarantee that you will be able to ID a horse either. Just look at all the brand chasing threads on all the horse forums...

Kilronan
08-03-11, 09:10 AM
Ah but they are new owners looking for history on a horse not horse owners chasing their horses!

dotty
08-03-11, 09:15 AM
We have a large pony stud with a number of white ponies that all look the same, i have had to resort to checking number brands to identify the pony. This is easily done with branding, if I had to catch the pony this usually requires running in all the ponies to the yards, a lot harder option that just checking brands. We usually brand 20 ponies a season they don't worry near as much as the big needle for chipping.

EarsForward
08-03-11, 09:22 AM
WE have used fire in the past(horse)freeze and m/chip.
The fire brand was along time ago,done expertly and quickly,and a life long identifyer.
I prefer freeze branding.My vet did not use sedation.It caused no dramas,they stood eating out of a bucket,against some fence panels,both sides,little to no reaction.
Wheras the m/chip injection seemed to really hurt by the way they flinched and tried to move away,and is not visible anyway.

Koalas_rule
08-03-11, 09:29 AM
I see nothing wrong with branding. Freeze branding causes no discomfort to the horse whatsoever.

I see nothing wrong with microchipping either (my horse is microchipped), but I do think that microchipped horses should be put onto a central database (like dogs and cats are) so that tracking them becomes easier. It also makes it more difficult for thieves, and let's face it there are still thieves about.

The only downside to microchipping that I can see is that some unscrupulous thieves will cut the microchip out - granted this doesn't happen here so much as it happens in the UK, where horse theft is always a problem. I've seen some horrible injuries as a result of animals (not just horses either) that have had microchips dug out of them so they could be untraceable once stolen.

So, microchipping is a safer and less obvious way of storing information about an animal. It's also got the potential to create greater injury to the animal if it is stolen.

Food for thought ...

teetee
08-03-11, 10:04 AM
My mare is freeze branded I prefer it I don't think it's totally painless as it does swell and become inflamed but I think it's less traumatic than fire branding and they don't associate the pain with the act because the inflammation takes a while to come up. Mine are also microchipped which they weren't all that impressed about either but chipping is a good way to positively ID although there are risks as others have said and I like the visible deterrent of a brand.

Djangoandjacana
08-03-11, 10:27 AM
The facebook site does not specify but they seem to be talking about hot branding. I think most objection to freeze branding is cosmetic as they are much obvious on dark haired horses than fire brands.How well does it work on light coloured horses?

Mine are microchipped as that is the registry requirement. We have had problems with lost migrating chips.

There should be a central registry for chips.

Brands can be doctored or cut too.

Done well I don't think branding is anymore traumatic than many other things we subject them too. Chips going in certainly gets a reaction.

Jenny Barnes 1
08-03-11, 10:45 AM
Dont have a problem at all with freeze branding. The racing industry changed to insist all horses were to be freeze and not fire branded from sometime in the 80s as soon as it was available as it was considered a lot less traumatic.

Pipi
08-03-11, 11:05 AM
Currently looking at getting my mare freeze branded as it is a requirement for registration with the percheron society- although she is microchipped.
Have hot branded before on my filly that I bred and it was so traumatic for her will not hot brand again.

kait21
08-03-11, 11:15 AM
We used to freeze brand the horses we bred and there was not much reaction. I don't think it's painless, but the swelling went down in a couple of days and they were fine. Those were TB's that had to be branded and now we have bred WB we haven't branded them with our brand on the shoulder. They are all microchipped (which caused quite the reaction but again they got over it) and you can usually feel the micro chip. Our WB's are all fire branded with the society's brand on their back end at the top of their leg and that's done as foals. They are usually held and it is much quicker than the freeze brand which is held on there and they barely show a reaction.

mindari
08-03-11, 12:20 PM
I see nothing wrong with branding. Freeze branding causes no discomfort to the horse whatsoever.

I see nothing wrong with microchipping either (my horse is microchipped), but I do think that microchipped horses should be put onto a central database (like dogs and cats are) so that tracking them becomes easier. It also makes it more difficult for thieves, and let's face it there are still thieves about.

The only downside to microchipping that I can see is that some unscrupulous thieves will cut the microchip out - granted this doesn't happen here so much as it happens in the UK, where horse theft is always a problem. I've seen some horrible injuries as a result of animals (not just horses either) that have had microchips dug out of them so they could be untraceable once stolen.

So, microchipping is a safer and less obvious way of storing information about an animal. It's also got the potential to create greater injury to the animal if it is stolen.

Food for thought ...

not really, only about 9 years ago a friends parents noticed half a dozen new cattle on the block next door. every single one of them had a 9x6 piece of skin missing in the same place.

sure looked like their brands had been cut off their hides.

my vet said hes had more than one dog brought in to hve a "bite" stitched up and in every case it was on the back of the neck or shoulder just where the chip would have been so both are happening.

but not many people do it.

MY BIG GRIPE is there is no law in place that ALL saleyards MUST record all visable brands and microchips on stock going through.

THEY KNOW theives use them as a clearing house and by only recording eg chestnut mare there is no way no how of tracing the stolen animal back to the seller.

for example i saw what was obviously two chestnut purebred arabian mares sold through camden they were clearly branded, i still wish i had bought them. two days later get a phone call had i seen two chestnut mares anywhere one was by aethon yep one of his last n her daughter.

i told them to ring the doggers as i suspected they may have gone that route or they might know who did buy them. the found they had gone to the one at dubbo who unfoortunatly had just killed them but he did cut out the brands so they could prove they were the stolen mares and copies of his invoice.
the auctioneer said there was no proof that the invoice for the two chestnut mares was for the same mares so would not disclose the name of the seller of that lot number.

as one who had 40 stud cattle stolen and get a phone call that the caller had seen my cattle go through all marked with our id we could not get any information as to who they went too or the seller.

even now with the scanable tages its the seller who has to declare their sale not the auctioneer and of course all they have to do is cut the original owners out and buy new ones anyway.

Horsesforcourses
08-03-11, 12:21 PM
I think freeze branding is the best option - I wouldn't call it cruel and it's certainly not unusual nowadays.
Although I have always thought that it was a rough deal that standardbreds have theirs so conspiciously on their necks - I think it unfairly identifies them in whatever they do after racing.

Mindari - that's terrible! Those poor arabs!!!!!

EarsForward
08-03-11, 12:32 PM
We first used m/chips due to E I ,I noticed that afterwards,the donkeys initially were quite distrustful of strangers like farrier and even now if I have had occasion to need to give an injection on one that has has been chipped,they are more leery of a needle then before when needles were no big deal.This includes foals done since the EI .I think the chipping must hurt for them to remember and object to needles more then they ever did before .

OakyPoke
08-03-11, 12:41 PM
I had the choice and I chose microchipping instead of branding. I'd do it every time. We are used to brands here but they really dont do anything to add to the asthetic value of the horse I think.
When I first got my OTTB, I joined a Retraining TB's forum that was US based. The first thing everyone asked me was "what the heck is all that writing on your horse and what does it mean?".
It never occured to me but if you watch races in the US you wont see any horses branded. At least I never have.

BabyBoomer
08-03-11, 12:51 PM
Personally, I'm all for microchipping - I think brands are ugly and I have had one horse whos brand faded and disappeared completely, even when clipped or wet, so they are not always reliable.
As for Solly's microchip being cut out by unscrupulous thieves ... well, I adore my little horse but don't kid myself that he's worth that much to anyone ... maybe if he was an imported jobbie I'd be worried.

StElmosFire
08-03-11, 12:55 PM
If I have to have Elmo chipped, I think I'll get him sedated first, and maybe even a bit of local anaesthetic. He's not fond of needles now, and if the fat chipping needle makes them even more leery of injections, I don't think he needs that particular piece of baggage to carry around with him.

Yes, I know the above mentioned things are also needles, but they're not great big fat ones!

I don't like branding. It hurts. A neat firebrand looks better than a big graffiti-like freeze brand, but so often they're not done properly, and are hard to read. Too faint, too blurred.... Freeze brands are neat to read, and you can get nice compact little one inch jobs, that don't look too dreadful.... but all that white lettering on a beautiful dark-colored coat looks nasty. I know you could probably color it in with texta to minimise it, but if you did that for a show or a comp, people might jump to the conclusion that you were trying to hide something..... like a stolen horse!

teetee
08-03-11, 01:01 PM
I think the risk with not having them branded is that I've heard of uncrsupulous types who go around with a truck and everything they can catch goes to the doggers, especially if it's in a paddock that's not regularly checked and a bit out of sight. I'm lucky that my horses aren't overly friendly to strangers so I doubt they'd let just anyone load them onto a truck, mind you I wouldn't like to have that theory tested either. At least with a brand you have an instant identifier so you have a good chance of catching them quickly, and it's a good visual deterrant as potential thieves will more easily go for a non branded horse than a branded one, that's why I like the visibility of freeze brands (on most horses) as sometimes fire brands can be hard to see in a winter coat.

shaiarabs
08-03-11, 01:05 PM
I had the choice and I chose microchipping instead of branding. I'd do it every time. We are used to brands here but they really dont do anything to add to the asthetic value of the horse I think.
When I first got my OTTB, I joined a Retraining TB's forum that was US based. The first thing everyone asked me was "what the heck is all that writing on your horse and what does it mean?".
It never occured to me but if you watch races in the US you wont see any horses branded. At least I never have.

the horses in the US from memory have tattoos under the top lip

that facebook page is against hot branding, I agree with them in that respect.

I prefer freeze, and would actually do freeze and microchip if I had the opportunity...

I will always have a visible brand..if I cannot point to my horse in a paddock after its been stolen and say that is this horse and that is the correct brand then I have less chance of having my horse returned to me.

EarsForward
08-03-11, 01:24 PM
I joined a Retraining TB's forum that was US based. The first thing everyone asked me was "what the heck is all that writing on your horse and what does it mean?".
It never occurred to me but if you watch races in the US you wont see any horses branded. At least I never have.

Some ranch horses USA seem to be branded.I had an issue with this when buying registered Mammoths .No brands..no m/chips NOTHING to say which was which when two very similar in appearance jennets arrived.Luckily their halters had their name on.Watching another video of about 20 almost identical jacks,it also occurred to us no matter which we chose,who would know if that was the one sent? We did work it out once we got to know them . Yet a ranch bred stud sent very loud uniquely tyger spotted one who was micro chipped/ DNA recorded/ freeze branded-talk about overkill! His chip does not appear on every scanner

FNQ62
08-03-11, 01:57 PM
Depends which side of the branding iron you are on...... :-)

lalique
08-03-11, 03:47 PM
I have had horses both hot and freeze branded. In my opinion neither was particularly cruel when done by an expert- both are still burns!

None were given any form of anaesthetic- both had ice packs applied to the area immediately prior and post branding and shows no signs of distress when the procedure was done.

If anything the hot branded ones seemed to recover the quicker of the two- the freeze brand took longer to swell and longer to receed. Both were realtively small brands but are sharp and clear and easy to read.

I prefer some form of visible identifiaction over microchips as it makes identification so much easier. If you have to ID a horse it is possible immediately- no gadgets/readers required. It is also easy to read its age!

I like microchips and appreciate their value but i dont see them as the bee all and end all of ID. I would possibly prefer a lip tattoo as and ID but I have no experience with them at all- so I cant comment.

My skin is not as tough and thick as a horses, I had a third degree burn on my hand and it hurt for one day, annoyed me for two more and then nothing worth mentioning. I dont think this degree of pain and irritabilty is too great to a horse when the ultimate result is a permanent form of ID.

I think the issue is having a professional apply any brand- when done correctly the horse displays no pain and no fear- it is quick and effective. The hot branded horses were not drugged nor twitched- they were only blind folded. They recieved three individual brands- stud brand and two numerals- and stood passively for all 3. There was no difference between the freeze and hot brands in the horses reactions. All were done by the farrier.

I think a lot of people dislike hot branding due to the smell- which is horrible! It is the image or odour which makes humans cringe- more so than the actual horse. Hot branding can also be emmotional if the person carrying out the procedure is not experienced and competant- so it becomes a traumatic experience for owners. A hot brand should only be touched to the skin and immediately removed, it should be very hot and not need a prolonged time applied to the skin- it becomes cruel when the brand is not hot enough and/or applied for too long- when the burn is too deep (applied too hard or too hot and hard). If hot brands are well done they are not traumatic to the horse and not traumatic to watch.

To the perosn above who asked about freeze brands on white/light coloured horses- they leave the brand on the skin for longer and the result is the same as the hot brand- it scars the skin instead of killing the hair folicle (where the hair grows back white)

Neisje
08-03-11, 10:05 PM
We have to microchip, no other choice, as branding is banned under European law and we are governed by a european studbook. My foals always have a local before the chip goes in and they don't even notice it!

As for horses being stolen, brands can be altered or cut out, if someone wants to go to the trouble of removing the horses ID they will do so if its branded or chipped. In holland years ago our Society used to do tongue tattoo's and there was a spate of horses being stolen and the thieves would cut the tattoo out of the tongue :(

LisaL
09-03-11, 11:10 AM
I've witnessed a lot of branding

There are other procedures we routinely do on livestock that are far more painful - castration, tail docking (sheep/cattle/dogs), birth/breeding.

Having witnessed fire branding - its not an issue - you tie horse so it stands still, you clip area, brand is at correct temperature, you usually blindfold - not as a pain issue but to ensure animal stays still as stick approaches so that brand is not messed up - and voila its over.

One good trick with horses is to apply an ice pack straight away and not to rug.

If you apply the icepack and hold it there for a good ten minutes and you don't rug the wound clears up without swelling or infection in a few days.

Castration - they take six to eight weeks to recover from the pain. But then I've witnessed the damage that a commercial herd of bulls can do to any other animal that accidently finds its way into their paddock - they would rape a cow/horse/sheep to death within a day…..you'd check the paddock for strays twice daily but if you didn't get down there in time - the itinerant would be exhausted or dead - and that was a horrific thing to behold.

A kick from another horse or a bite from another horse causes far more trauma than branding.

With freeze branding you have to sedate the horse, inject them with local pain killers and they take far longer to heal than they do from fire branding.

There are bigger issues out there for horses - starvation, overfeeding, poor quality training, lack of veterinary care when they need it.

and then lets discuss the death rate in mares and foals, as well as the mares left infertile - nasty injuries can occur from conception through to birth - and a difficult birth is a traumatic experience for all involved.

Its like tail docking of sheep. I'm sure people would squirm if they witnessed that - but at the same time - it helps prevent fly strike - and fly strike is far more painful.

And god forbid the PETA people ever witnessed mulsing of sheep. Mulsing isn't something I agree with on properties where you are able to crutch sheep regularly - however on those western properties where they pretty much shear what they can catch and the sheep can go for a long time without regular inspection - mulsing is the difference between life and death. That said, I for one will be happy when mulsing of sheep is no more.

teetee
09-03-11, 11:17 AM
When my mare was freeze branded as a yearling she didn't have sedation or a local, just a twitch and each letter/number was done individually she only started to fidget towards the end when the sensation would have started to come back. I probably would have given bute afterwards had I known then what I know now, but she certainly wasn't noticeably stressed by the procedure and this was a sensitive TB filly who used to stress about everything lol.

Dilutes
11-03-11, 12:52 PM
You can register your microchip on the AAR - not sure that it would be worth much but you can do it. http://www.aar.org.au/

I think Aust needs one database for ALL animals and ALL states. We had a dog still chipped t us (a rescue dog) as the pound had lost his paperwork after we handed it in. I got a call from Dept of Local Govt to tell me that RSPCA in Qld had him. But how ridiculous that RSPCA could not access those details and Dept of Local Govt would not tell them either!

My horse is not branded but I will have to brand him to put him on the Stock horse register unfortunately. I'm in two minds about doing it and keep putting it off

gimetime
11-03-11, 01:04 PM
Yep, One data base for all domestic pets, and I also think it should be protocol for vets to have to scan all animals they attend to and check that the animal actually belongs to the said person. As far as I know they don't have access to the data base which would make it impossible for them to know if they are attending a stolen animal. It would make thieving animals just that little bit harder to get away with.

I don't have anything against freeze branding.

cheers

treacle
11-03-11, 01:09 PM
blindfolds you say ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKW5JyzTc7Y

; )

EarsForward
11-03-11, 02:35 PM
With freeze branding you have to sedate the horse, inject them with local pain killers and they take far longer to heal than they do from fire branding.
.

HUH? We have had freeze branded,about 20 done over past doz years-..none had any sedation nor injections nor needed any either,have also used fire branding longer ago,can't say freeze branding took longer to heal.Mine hate injections ,and would have got upset if we had done that first.Instead they hardly moved,just munched away .