Cattle Country 2015
Fred Stafford became a brand inspector with Ownership Identification Inc. (OII) three years ago, and is one of four in the Williams Lake area.
The inspectors cover 70 Mile House to Quesnel, east to Horsefly and Likely and west to Anahim Lake.
The majority of inspections take place at the Williams Lake stockyards, but there are also private sales on ranches during spring, summer and fall.
Born and raised in the cattle industry, he explained that using a registered brand benefits both the buyer and the seller. “It provides certainty all the way through,” he said.
OII, B.C.’s brand registration and inspection program, protects cattle, horse and bison owners against loss of animals by theft, straying or misappropriation. The program consists of the registration of livestock brands and the inspection of cattle and horses for lawful possession prior to transportation, sale or slaughter.
The program is financed in its entirety through brand registration and inspection fees paid by the livestock producers.
The company is owned by the BC Cattlemen’s Association, BC Breeder and Feeder Association, BC Association of Cattle Feeders, the Horse Council B.C. and the Mountain Auction Markets Association. Run by a Board of Directors representing the shareholders, the company’s head office is located in Kamloops.
“Branding registration and inspection provides positive proof of ownership; if a stray animal shows up at the stockyards we can trace it and see that it is returned to the rightful owner,” Stafford stated.
“Misappropriation can mean when animals come in off the range and three or four producers are sharing a Crown range area, and one animal belonging to one person ends up on another person’s place.
“It can happen when you’re driving 500 animals.”
He added that the registered brand takes all potential confusion and argument out of these situations.
“When you buy an animal, you re-brand it and there is also a bill of sale. Nearly half the time we see multiple brands on an animal.
“People brand them as calves and then they’re sold and change hands several times. That’s why the paper work is critical,” he continued.
He added that if there is an accident on the highway and an inspector is called by the RCMP, they can check the brand and ownership and provide that information to the authorities.
The inspection fees are paid by the producers who are selling their animals, according to Stafford, who said that the fee is $1.60 a head: a price that has not changed for years, and which is the same whether the inspection takes place on their ranch or at the stockyards. “An inspection can cover anything from five head of bulls to 500 head of cattle,” he explained.
He noted that every local inspector has an agricultural background. “It’s not required, but it’s certainly an asset to know the area and the people in it. Most inspectors in the province are known within their own area,” he said. “People understand who they are and how they operate.”
When someone wants to get a brand, there is an application form. “We recommend that people get their hands on the brand book and see if the one they want meets the design policy, and if it’s already been used. They can phone the main office in Kamloops and find out if it’s available,” he continued.
“The same brands can be used by different people, depending on the type of animal and where in the body they want to brand them. You can choose the shoulder, hip or ribs and the left or right side.”
He also said that the owners of most horses, and even some cattle, use a cold-branding process that uses nitro glycerin. “It leaves a nice, clear brand because it causes no discomfort to the animal and they don’t move,” he stated.
OII works with brand inspection organizations in Canada and in the U.S. “We have found Alberta brands in our inspections and have exchanged brand information with organizations in Washington and California. The brand is used mainly for identification but it can also be used for all kinds of information and history on an animal,” he said.
“An ear tag can tell you who registered it, but doesn’t prove who owns the animal – only a brand can do that.”