For Immediate Release: August 16, 2011
Contact: Carmen Fenton, 512-469-0171
Registering your brand is the first step to prevent cattle theft
By: Joe Parker, Jr.
There are 3 things we ranchers seem to deal with on a regular basis: government, Mother Nature and cattle thieves. We can’t always control how the government regulates our industry, and we can’t ever control the hand that Mother Nature deals us. But we can work to protect ourselves against cattle thieves by branding our livestock.
Branding is a tradition in Texas. Since before the 1800s, Texas ranchers have used brands to identify their livestock and help prevent cattle theft—a phenomenon that still happens pretty frequently in Texas today. In fact, in 2010, the number of cattle reported missing or stolen to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) was approximately 7,700, an increase of 220 percent from 2007.
In 1877, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) was created with the objective of preventing cattle theft. While TSCRA has evolved and expanded over the past century, preventing and solving agricultural crimes, especially cattle theft, remains the foundation of the association. Law enforcement is such a priority for TSCRA that the association employees 30 special rangers stationed all over Texas and Oklahoma whose main objective is to protect ranchers from thieves.
Ask any 1 of the 30 special rangers and they’ll tell you the best way to prevent cattle theft is to brand, and in the instance that branded cattle are stolen, they are much more likely to be recovered than unbranded cattle. Last year alone, TSCRA special rangers recovered or accounted for more than $3.6 million worth of stolen property, much of which were stolen cattle.
The rangers have a high success rate partly because TSCRA hosts the nation’s largest brand recording and retrieval system—the first place checked when a special ranger receives a theft call. The database is updated daily by TSCRA market inspectors who collect brands and other identifying marks on 4 million cattle sold at 105 Texas livestock auctions.
While there is no law requiring you to brand your livestock, if you do brand, there is a law requiring that you register your brand with the county clerk’s office every 10 years. Beginning Aug. 31, 2011 and running through Feb. 29, 2012, all Texas brands, whether old or new, must be re-registered in the county or counties where you operate. If you don’t re-register your brand during that time period, then your brand is up for grabs by anyone who may want it. It’s also important to know that it is against the law to use a brand that isn’t registered.
To make the re-registration process a little simpler, TSCRA has put together a website, www.tscrabrands.com, which has all the information and forms needed to re-register your brands. Here you can find lists of brands by county, guides on how to design and read brands and contact information for all the county clerks.
It’s a tough climate for Texas ranchers right now, both literally and politically. We can’t always control the government and we certainly can’t control Mother Nature, but we can work to protect our investment from thieves.
The first step is to re-register your brand.
Joe Parker Jr. is a third generation rancher from Clay County, Texas. He is president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He is also chairman of the board and president of the First National Bank of Byers.