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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Brand inspections

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Since the brand borne by each animal was the only evidence of ownership in the Western range country, a system of brand inspection became necessary in order to check animals being moved on the trails and being sold at the markets. 

At first, the association functioned on the order of a private detective agency and then inaugurated the inspection of cattle at railroad points where livestock were unloaded for feed and rest. In 1881, the executive committee was enlarged to five members, and inspectors were placed at Omaha, Neb., Council Bluffs, Pacific Junction, Boone and Clinton, Iowa, Kansas City, Mo. and at Fort Sheridan and the Rose Bud Agency. By the next year there were 13 stock inspectors who had inspected approximately 200,000 cattle during one season. 

In 1883, the association established the first market brand inspection at the Minnesota Transfer, St. Paul, and since this time, Wyoming brand inspections gradually extended to other open markets where Wyoming cattle were sold.

These livestock markets during all the years have been and still are the final points at which most of the livestock are sold. Hence, the necessity of maintaining a corps of competent inspectors for the protection of the producers can be readily understood. Unless such protection has been afforded, the way would have been open for the disposal of thousands of estrayed or stolen cattle at markets, without the knowledge of the owners.

The purpose of brand inspection has always been to determine the proper ownership of cattle, horses and mules from the brands appearing on the livestock, and to provide the proceeds of the estrays or any animals to which the shipper cannot show title, reach the hands of a rightful owner.

Each inspector has been provided with a copy of the recorded brands in Wyoming on which ownership of the cattle was based. When cattle were shipped by other than the recorded owner, bills of sale tracing to the recorded owner have been demanded.

This article was written by Agnes Wright Spring in the publication “70 Years Cow Country,” Wyoming Stock Growers Association, first edition, Jan. 1, 1942. Send comments on this article to

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