Are dairy cows branded?
The law states that all cattle must be permanently identified by an official ear tag in each ear. Branding is another method of permanent cattle ID. There are two methods of branding: hot branding and freeze branding.
Hot branding is not practiced on dairy cattle in the UK.
Hot iron branding of cattle is prohibited in the UK under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968.
Freeze branding is a permitted procedure for identification of cattle under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Some dairy cattle in the UK are freeze branded for ease of individual identification during routine management procedures such as checking the cow's body and foot condition, and identifying animals on heat or requiring veterinary assistance.
Freeze branding offers a permanent form of identification that is easy to read at a great distance, causes minimal damage to the hide and research has shown it is less painful than hot branding.
Freeze branding uses liquid nitrogen or dry ice and works quite differently from hot branding in that a very cold branding iron applied to the hide results in freezing the hair follicles. Freeze branding kills the pigment producing cells in the hair follicle which results in hair growing back white or no hair regrowth.