Brands and the West

Since the beginning of the cattle industry in Wyoming a rancher needed two things, a rope and a brand. Wyoming has a huge book of thousands of brands registered in the state. One iron brands were easy and it did not take long to reach a point where most, or all of the one iron, brands were used up. Then the ranchers got creative.

Simple letters and numbers were replaced by symbols such as letters and numbers: walking, running, flying, tilted, rocking and lazy. In early Wyoming cattle day’s two young Harvard grads came west to seek their fortune in the new cattle industry. The two registered the Duck Bar as their brand, yep, a duck with a bar under it.

Many picture brands came into being around that time, other than the duck, things like, fish, pots and pans, the pitchfork, scissors, cow horns, and in modern day goal posts have all been used as brands.

One of the most well known of picture brands, made famous by Owen Wister’s, The Virginian, was the goose egg.

Today Wyoming is still a brand state, not many left anymore. With the advent of ear tags and now ear tags with computer chips or implanted computer chips the brand my someday die out. As for me I still like to see branded cattle, I try to figure out the brand every time. Once in a while I am right.
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