What is freezebranding?
Freeze branding is generally used when referring to the act of applying a ranch brand or symbol to a horse or other livestock. It is a technique in which a branding iron, chilled to -300 F, when properly applied to the animals skin kills the color pigment producing cells. The result is that white or colorless hair instead of colored hair, grows at the brand site. On light or white horses, the brand is applied a few seconds longer and hair does not grow back, leaving a hairless mark instead. One advantage of freeze branding is that it produces a readable brand at any time of the year.
Why Freeze Branding?
Freeze branding has become popular because it is safe and fairly easy to do. The brand is legible, permanent and visible so that it can be read from a distance. Branded horses have a visible theft deterrent and if stolen, it gives a visible marking as reference. Ranch brands applied by freeze branding should be registered with the state of residence to record legal ownership of the animal. Brands can also discourage fraudulent practices with registration papers as most registries will include the freeze branding mark on the registration paperwork.
How is the Freeze Marking with the Alpha Angle System* different than a "ranch brand"?
The Alpha Angle System* used was developed by Dr. R. Keith Farrell. In the Angle system, a number is assigned to each angle or double bar configuration. The internationally recognized Alpha Angle System* incorporates a series of angles and alpha symbols that cannot be altered. The mark contains the Registering Breed Organization or unique state ID, year of birth, registration number or identification number for grade horses. It is followed by a control line to make it even more difficult to alter.
A freeze mark does not need to be registered with the state brand department as it is registered nationally with Kryo Kinetics USA, LLC. This mark is unique to that horse and will is not duplicated for horses owned by the same person or bred at the same farm. It is internationally recognized and reportable to NCIC if the horse is ever lost or stolen. Think of it as a serial number that makes your horse unique and identifiable even among other horses of similar breeding and color.
How do you read the Alpha Angle System*?
Is Freeze branding more kind than hot branding?
Freeze branding is relatively painless for the horse, especially compared to hot iron branding. Hot iron branding can result in a blotched, unreadable brand.
Do brands prove ownership?
Yes, brands are legal proof of ownership. A brand cannot be chosen and used at random as the owner of the horse must apply to the state Brand Board for a brand registry. It is illegal to brand a horse with an unregistered brand. Law regarding brands differ state to state so individual location will determine how you go about getting your brand registered with the state so please check for applicable laws in your state. Currently many states do not have brand registries or brand inspectors, this will be important to research through the State Agriculture Department for your state.
What if my horses are young?
The brand site grows with the horse, so if you have a freeze mark applied to a young horse the mark will grow with them as they age.
Does the marking require any special care?
Immediately after freeze marking you will see a frozen indentation in the animals skin. Within five minutes the indentation will disappear and swelling will begin. The brand will be readable but the swelling will cause the mark to have two or three times the thickness that the actual finished brand will have. The brand will be swollen for 48 to 72 hours. The mark requires no special care, but some owners feel better administering a small amount of Bute or hosing the spot with cold water. There is no open wound left from freeze marking, so no special medical treatment is called for.
After the swelling dissipates the brand may not be easily seen. About 20 to 30 days the brand will begin to get flaky and scaly. By the third or fourth week the scab will start to turn loose. Once the scab is gone, white, peach fuzz type hair should appear in 30 days. Full hair growth will depend upon the time of year the brand is applied.
To keep the brand readable as the a longer, winter coat grows in, it is recommended to always keep that area clipped so the brand does not appear "blurred" by the longer hair growth in winter months.
If my horse is lost or stolen, how does a brand help protect them?
Contrary to popular believe, a Registration Certificate is not proof of ownership! Since only color, markings, age and sex are used to identify a horse on the registration, the physical description alone could match hundreds of other horses. If you had to prove that the horse in someone else’s pasture belonged to you, could you? What if the other person had a bill of sale (or a registration certificate) for a horse with the same markings as yours? Could you prove, beyond a doubt, that this horse belongs to you? With a distinct, unique and most importantly... state registered brand or Alpha Angle freeze mark, you would be able to prove legal ownership of the horse.
What is the cost?
The one time fee for a permanent freeze mark is $135. This includes a full comprehensive identification worksheet noting and recording all whorls, markings, scars and other identifying characteristics as well as the freeze mark itself and digital pictures. A laminated card is sent to the owner showing them as legal owners of that animal and a copy is sent to the appropriate breed registry for notation on a horses registration papers. That unique freeze mark and accompanied information is registered with Kryo Kinetics USA, LLc in a national database with over 18,000 horses previously marked. This information, if needed due to theft or lost horses, is easily accessible 24/7. Travel and mileage fees are divided equally among the owners with the intention of saving everyone some money.