oldest recorded cattle brand in Colorado is believed to be the "Bar
over SS" registered in the 1884 brand book and belonging to John Sheriff
of Hot Sulphur Springs, Colo., first recorded by his great-grandmother
when she filed on her homestead. Currently, there are 32,609 registered
brands in Colorado according to an article published in the High Plains
Journal of Dodge City, Kan.
Retaining a registered brand in Colorado is not cheap, costing $225
for a five-year period. A late fee adds another $100 if you forget
and later register during a three year grace period. A Colorado registered
brand is considered private property that can be bought and sold.
The number of today's ranches in Colorado, like their brands, is slowly
dwindling as many of the most scenic or those adjacent to communities
are being developed into smaller properties. Once a property is subdivided
it usually no longer needs a brand. As of July 1, about 4,000 registered
brands had been canceled for these reasons. Some larger ranches accumulated
several brands as they expanded through the years. With the high cost
of registration, many extra brands are being sold or dropped from
Supposedly, an 1885 brand is now being offered for sale at $12,000.
Some reasons for the pricing of brands are that the fewer the digits
in a brand, the higher the price since fewer digits mean easier branding,
less pain to the animal and those type brands are becoming rare. Of
the 4,000 brands dropped from the registry, some 148 owners offered
their brands for sale ranging in price from $18,000 down to $500.
have an interesting brand story about our ranch in New Mexico. After
many years of operations a partner in the ranch was having serious
health problems and wanted to divide the land to make settling his
For various reasons he wanted to keep the old ranch brand so suddenly,
we needed a new brand to register. After two days in Santa Fe searching
for a brand not registered, Dad had an inspiration. He asked if
the shape of Texas was registered? The brand people were astounded
to actually find a one-digit brand that was not registered among
the thousands of brands in the brand book. If I remember correctly,
it became the only one-digit brand registered in New Mexico in more
than 50 years.
We now had a map of Texas brand but because of the closed shape
it had to be made of light narrow strap iron, not heated to a cherry
red, and applied with brief placements or it would blotch and not
peel correctly. Old-time cowboys called a blotched brand a "fly-swatter,
a map of Mexico or a whang-doodle."
Thanks to the High Plains Journal for excerpts taken from its article.
"It's All Trew" January
11, 2011 column