Freeze Branding Horses – Aug 7, 2021

Horses need some form of permanent identification for testing, ownership, and especially when they get out of their pasture – natural disasters can be a nightmare.

We can microchip horses and that can be recorded in a national database. That’s a great thing, but when there isn’t access to a microchip reader, or you need to identify a horse from a distance, it can be problematic.

Thoroughbred horses will have tattoos in their upper lips that will identify each horse.

Mustangs are a breed that will have freeze brands on their necks to identify them.

The most common, easily identified form of ID is a freeze brand.

A special brand can be made that is specific to a farm, a trainer, or a family. It is made of brass. The brand must sit in liquid nitrogen for 10-15 minutes to insure the proper temperature.

I routinely sedate horses to freeze brand. I always want them to be comfortable and pain free if possible.

The brand needs to be applied on skin that has been prepared with alcohol.

Branding time depends on a few factors. Thicker, non-shaved hair areas will need more contact time. As much as 45 seconds.

The area to be branded may need to be shaved if the hair is too thick.

Thin skinned horses may only need 20-30 seconds.

When the freeze brand time is complete, the branded skin should be firm and frozen.

When the skin thaws, it will swell.

Once the hair dies, it will grow back white.

This is a great way to identify horses from far away. The brand should be registered to a farm or an individual. The state brand commission will be able to tell you who owns the brand.

Freeze brands can be found on any part of the horse. I have seen them on cheeks, shoulders, hips, beside the tail, and on the upper legs.

The location of the same brand should be consistent among all horses. We always put our brand on the left hip.

Hope you are looking forward to fall!

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