Laws were passed requiring the registration of brands, and the inspection of cattle driven through various territories.Penalties were imposed on those who failed to obtain a bill of sale with a list of brands on the animals purchased.From the Americas, many cattle branding traditions and techniques spread to Australia, where a distinct set of traditions and techniques developed.
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Livestock branding is a technique for marking livestock so as to identify the owner.
Originally, livestock branding only referred to a hot brand for large stock, though the term is now also used to refer to other alternative techniques such as freeze branding.
Other forms of livestock identification include inner lip or ear tattoos, earmarking, ear tagging, and RFID tagging with a type of microchip.
The semi-permanent paint markings used to identify sheep are called a paint or colour brand.
In the American West, branding evolved into a complex marking system still in use today.
In English lexicon, the word "brand", common to most Germanic languages (from which root also comes "burn", cf.
German Brand "burning, fire"), originally meant anything hot or burning, such as a "firebrand", a burning stick.
By the European Middle Ages, it commonly identified the process of burning a mark into stock animals with thick hides, such as cattle, so as to identify ownership under animus revertendi.
The practice became particularly widespread in nations with large cattle grazing regions, such as Spain.
These European customs were imported to the Americas and were further refined by the vaquero tradition in what today is the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
In the American West, a "branding iron" consisted of an iron rod with a simple symbol or mark, which cowboys heated in a fire.