Some cows have them. Some cows don’t. Regardless of whether or not your cows are branded, the law requires brand inspections when cattle are transfered, sold, or slaughtered.
The Idaho State Brand Inspector is entrusted with inforcing laws relative to the identificaton and inspection of livestock with an emphasis on reducing the loss of livestock by theft. Idaho Code § 25-116. In short, a brand inspector inspects cattle (and other livestock) when they are sold, transported, or slaughtered so as to reduce the liklihood of cattle thieves easily converting cattle to cash.
A person selling or transfering livestock has the primary responsibility to obtain a brand inspection. Idaho Code § 25-1120(2). However, if the seller doesn’t do it, the buyer is obligated by law to arrange for a brand inspection. Id. A fee of $2.71 per head is charged for a brand inspection, with a minimum fee of $20 charged when a brand inspector has to travel to do an inspection.
The livestock to be inspected should be gathered in a corral and be ready for inspection prior to the arrival of the inspector. Brand inspectors are not responsible for gathering livestock prior to inspection.
Idaho law also requires a brand inspection not more than ninety-six (96) hours prior to slaughtering an animal, whether for commercial purposes or for personal consumption. Idaho Code § 25-1120(1).
Any person transporting or driving livestock outside the boundaries of Idaho are required to obtain a brand inspection. In addition, any person transporting livestock which they do not own within the state require a brand inspection, or a transportation permit. Idaho Code § 25-1121. Failure to obtain the required brand inspection can result in the detention of your cattle.
Idaho citizens who are the owners of a brand also have the unique right to require livestock in transit, or which are about to be shipped, to be inspected to determine whether or not a brand inspection has been completed. Idaho Code § 25-1126. In other words, a brand-owning rancher can inspect his neighbors herd to make sure that none of the rancher’s cows are being mistakenly hauled off to the auction.
If you fail to obtain a brand inspection when required you may receive an infraction for a first offense, and a misdemenor citation for the second offense, punishable by a fine not to exceed $300, and/or six months in jail.
Before you peddle a few steers to your neighbor, make sure you call your local brand inspector and request an inspection. It’s the law of the land.