Cattle brand inspection book

Inspectors for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association collected brands to fight cattle theft

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by Kathryn Siefker, Associate Curator of Exhibition Content

A brand inspector working for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association in the early 1900s recorded cattle brands from around the state in this brand inspection book. The book’s well-worn hand-cut tabs have brands organized by common symbols like letters, numbers, and shapes. Each page records the cattle’s ear marks, brand, owner name, ranch name, and the nearest post office.

The recorded information allowed the Cattle Raisers Association, which was formed by 40 ranchers in 1877, to better fight cattle theft. Cattle thieves who altered existing brands were frequently caught by inspectors working along the cattle trails, at shipping points, and at terminal markets. Inspectors could compare the branded cattle to the known brands listed in this book to find any discrepancies. In this way, many cattle were recovered and returned to their proper owners.

Today, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSRCA) has special rangers commissioned by the Texas Department of Public Safety who oversee teams of market inspectors who inspect livestock at public cattle auctions in Texas and Oklahoma. Instead of relying on individual brand books, the market inspectors send the data they collect to TSCRA’s Fort Worth headquarters, where the information is entered into the nation’s largest brand recording and retrieval system. This database is the first source checked when a special ranger receives a call reporting a cattle theft. Through their efforts, special rangers are able to recover $3-5 million worth of stolen cattle every year.   

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Cattle brand inspection book Artifact from Austin
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