Need More Help?

Contact Stuart Makgill who can freezebrand your animals for you.

Stuart Makgill
Phone: 07 322 1076
Mobile: 025 293 5537

Tips for successful Freeze Branding

  1. Fill digit-mould cavities completely, with well packed ice. Over filling is preferable. Under filling can cause failures. Apply immediately after filling.
  2. Use a wetting agent liberally (methylated spirits or alcohol) direct from a sealed container and immediately prior to branding. Do not apply with a rag or brush from an open-top container. Open containers will absorb atmosphere moisture, which will reduce the effectiveness of the brand.
  3. Pressure must be applied to the brand handle from the start to the end of the application time, but increasing towards the end to ensure constant contact of the reducing-thickness ice with the hide.
  4. If the dry-ice is light and fluffy, and sometimes falls out of the mould, or if the gun does not shut-off completely or cleanly, there is very likely a partial block of the jet. This condition will produce unsatisfactory ice and consequently poor quality brands. Remove and reverse the nozzle jet.

The Brandabull Kit

The Brandabull system is supplied either as a complete kit in its own hanging organiser, or as separate dry-ice gun and numbers/digits components. The hanging organiser allows the digits to be conveniently available whilst branding is in progress. Just hang it on a nearby rail or fence.
The complete kit contains one set of ten digit moulds 0 to 9, either 2″ (5cm) or 3″ (7.5cm), a Brandabull dry ice gun and hose, a small plastic bottle for applying the meths or alcohol, operation manual and a demonstration video. (Note: The plastic bottle is suitable for small-scale branding jobs only, and should be replaced with a larger one for bigger jobs.) Special brand moulds to your own design, or letters A-Z, can be ordered if required. Check with your Brandabull supplier.
Note: 0-9 digits are also available in 4″ (10cm) but these are not suitable for containment in the organiser depicted here.
Brandabull is also available as a Gun Kit and Digits Set as separate components, not including the organiser.

Freezebranding Kits Are Available From:
Shoof International Ltd Private Bag 522 , Cambridge,
Phone: 07 827 3902
Fax: 07 823 0651
Email: or

Leader Products
Phone: 09 444 6180
Fax: 09 444 1220

Freeze Branding of Cattle

Freeze branding is an ideal way of marking animals for an easy and convenient identification. It involves the relatively painless process of altering the pigment-producing cells in the hair follicles by applying intense cold to an animal’s hide. This process causes the hair to grow white, thereby providing an effective identification mark on animals with darker hair. For light coloured animals, applying the freeze brand for extra time kills the hair follicle completely, leaving a bald brand, which is still quite visible.
Freeze branding is of particular benefit to dairymen and cattle producers who wish to identify their stock permanently for herd recording or ownership purposes.

Advantages of Freeze Branding

  • Freeze brands are permanent and unalterable.
  • Freeze brands are highly visible.
  • There is little discomfort to the animal.
  • There is no damage to the hide.

Physiology of Freeze Branding

  • Upon application of the brand, the skin is indented and frozen in the shape applied.
  • Within two to three minutes the skin thaws, possibly leaving a reddening of the area.
  • This is followed by a marked edema (fluid-fluid swelling) which may persist for several days.
  • The edema and reddening then recede and the area becomes dry and scurfy.

Varying amounts of skin and hair are lost from the brand area over the next two to four weeks. Subsequent hair re-growth occurs at various times dependant on the seasonal hair growth pattern, but is usually eight to twelve weeks after branding. It is white, and grows much more rapidly than hair in the unbranded area. This is particularly so in the first year after freeze branding. The brand becomes a permanent means of identification. Brands may not be at all visible until eight to ten weeks after application.
There is a large amount of information available on the internet giving advice about branding on a wide variety of animal species. Also refer to for information and assistance directly relating to Brandabull.
Traditionally freeze branding has involved the process of using dry ice pellets or liquid nitrogen as the cold medium. Branding irons, usually cast from copper or bronze with a handle attached, are immersed in a solution of alcohol and dry ice, or into liquid nitrogen. When an iron is cooled to the correct temperature, it is applied to the animal’s hide for the required period

Procedure For Branding

  1. The animal should be restrained to minimise its movement, as movement may affect the clarity and quality of the brand. This is ideally achieved by using a head-bail in cattle yards.
  2. Decide on the brand position required.
  3. The animal’s hide must be clipped closely, to remove as much hair as possible from the branding site. The maximum amount of cold will not be transferred if hair is present, as the hair will act as insulation. It is best to use an electric clipper with a surgical-cut blade.
  4. Load the digit mould with dry ice directly from the gun by holding the barrel just above the face of the mould so that the stream of ice is directed into the mould when the trigger is operated. The barrel is then moved slowly and smoothly along the cavity allowing the ice to completely fill to well above the surrounding surface. Overlapping ice will not affect the brand clarity. With a little practice, accurate and smooth filling of the mould becomes very easy. It is important that the ice is well packed in the entire mould to ensure that a complete brand is created. Uneven or incomplete filling will affect the clarity of the finished brand. Practice filling completely in one continuous run, rather than going back and forth over the mould.
  5. Immediately prior to applying the brand, liberally soak the area to be branded with methylated spirits or alcohol. This should be squirted directly from a suitable plastic bottle. This is to assist in the transfer of the cold to the skin, and to help remove any moisture and dirt, which may act as a barrier to the effective freezing of the hide.
  6. Immediately after wetting apply the brand with firm and continuous pressure. This is important to ensure that the dry ice is in full contact with the animals’s hide. Brand pressure should increase as the ice melts, to ensure compression of the rubber mould and continuous contact of frozen ice with the hide.
  7. The length of time that the brand is applied to the animal’s hide is also very important (see brand timing below) as if held too long a bald brand may result, and if too little then the brand will not be clear or as visible as is desired. Over-branded or bald brands can become difficult to read, as the surrounding hair tends to grow over them reducing the readability, although clipping the area periodically should restore this.

Brand Timing

The times detailed below are intended as a guide only, as there are many variables that will affect the brand result.
Calves 10 -20 seconds
Yearlings 20 -30 seconds
Mature Cow 35 – 60 seconds
(average 45 seconds)

Care of your Branding Gear

At the end of each day’s branding it is a good idea to rinse the brands in warm water with a little mild dish-washing detergent in it. This will remove any dirt etc. Allow the brands to dry thoroughly. Store in a safe place until needed again.

Supply of Gas

The correct gas is Carbon Dioxide (CO2) which is readily available in cylinders from any industrial gases supplier. The correct cylinder to use is the liquid withdrawal type. This has an inductor tube fitted inside the cylinder so that the gas can be drawn off as liquid, rather than gas.
There are a variety of different sizes of cylinders available from 6.8 kg capacity up to 33 kg. The smaller cylinder typically will fill approximately 70 brand digits. The larger cylinder will typically fill approximately 330 brand digits.


If you haven’t branded before go and see someone that does it successfully as it is something that to do well needs a few years of practice. Unfortunately you may have to learn by your mistakes. Remember not to brand over the top of an existing brand if you have made a mistake or it is unreadable. Contact the Association and they will advise you what to do. It may be a valuable animal that you would like to sell to another stud breeder.