Our brand has only been in existence since the late 50's and is read as Box 4 -- the numeral 4 within a square box outline. We have four daughters and one son so we figured he could keep them in place; hence, the box around the 4.
Paul had another brand prior to that. It was a hanging bar with the letters PS below. The branding iron consisted of three parts so it was time consuming to apply. This was used as an acid brand which made it even more difficult to apply if the animal wasn't constrained properly.
Then our son made a set of hot irons with the Hanging PS but again, you needed a good-size crew to catch each calf and bring it to the fire where the irons were put in the red-hot coals.
We finally purchased an electric branding iron with the Box 4 but won't use it unless we lease out some cows which will then act as a sign of ownership to any brand inspector.
The first registered brands in North Dakota were in 1929 when cattle rustling was rampant in the western part of the state. By the next year, the North Dakota Stockmen's Association had assisted in five rustling convictions. T
he cost to register a brand is low compared to the theft of cattle or horses without a brand.
Brands can be sold along with a ranch or can be discontinued if the person doesn't need it anymore.
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Photo credit: Kathy Smokov Dykes