Livestock Brand Inspector  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotLivestock brand inspectors must check brands on livestock. They also check any documents, such as shipping manifests and bills of sale, that show ownership when livestock is sold.

They record the description and number of livestock shipped. And if there is a disagreement over ownership, they can put a hold on the sale of the livestock in question until they can be certain of who owns the animals.

Ken Weir is a regional head of brand inspection services. "Last year, there were over five million brand inspections," he says. "And out of that number, 55,000 heads of cattle and the proceeds were held because of disputes over ownership."

dotIf stray livestock is roaming around, it is the duty of a livestock brand inspector to catch and impound the animal or animals and arrange boarding until the owner is found.

If any livestock strays from the farm and causes damage to someone's property while exploring the world, a livestock brand inspector would help in the claim process.

dotIf you think a cattle or horse thief is a thing of the past, think again! Because such activity still exists, livestock brand inspectors investigate and report any illegal activity involving livestock. This includes theft or illegal branding. Consequently, they sometimes get involved in court cases.

"Ultimately what we're here to do is prevent the theft of livestock," says Weir.

dotIf this sounds like the position for you, you'd better love the outdoors. This is definitely not an office job. "Ninety-five percent of this job is in the field," says Larry Gray of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. They also put in a lot of driving time.

"You get to go around and meet a lot of people," says Debbie Deter of Colorado.

dotBrand inspectors are hired by both the government and private organizations.

dotIt's important to be physically fit to do this job. Gray says the physical requirements are the same as a law enforcement officer's.

dotModern identification methods have changed the way that livestock inspection and identification is done in some areas.

Instead of burning the ranch logo on to the sides of their livestock with a hot iron, some owners identify their animals through Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. These collars can record the location of an animal within five yards every 10 minutes.

Karen Ray is the office manager for Livestock Identification Services (LIS) Ltd. She says that GPS collars do not render brand inspection obsolete. "It's still a form of identification," she says. "So people will still need to monitor the cows."

At a Glance

Prevent theft of livestock by checking ownership

  • GPS collars may change the nature of the task for some inspectors
  • You can work for government or private organizations
  • You'll need a high school diploma and some experience with livestock