Don’t Be a Maverick; Brush up on Cattle Branding!

Brahman Bull with Brahman Cow

February 5, 2024

Don’t Be a Maverick; Brush up on Cattle Branding!

Imagine being such a legendary Texan, your last name becomes an official part of the English language! That’s the story of Samuel A. Maverick, a Texas lawyer, land baron, former mayor of San Antonio, and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, who refused to brand his cattle. Today, a maverick is an animal that does not carry a brand – or a rebel who thinks or acts independently.

And, although television, movies, and advertising glorify mavericks, in agriculture, cattle branding is actually a very important—and necessary—part of operating a Brahman cattle ranch. More than just a romanticized ranching tradition, ranch cattle brands have a purpose and meaning.

Cattle Branding 101

What is a Cattle Brand

Let’s start off with the obvious question – what does branding cattle mean? A cattle brand is a special mark or symbol put on a ranch cow‘s hide to show who owns it. Cattle branding serves as a permanent and visible means of identification for members of a cattle herd. 

Brands are typically applied using a hot iron that’s been custom made for the ranch. In terms of design, some cattle brands are simple – with just letters and numbers (like V8’s), while others are quite intricate, with symbols and characters mixed together aesthetically. The design of a brand is usually chosen based on family history, tradition, or personal significance to the ranch owner. 

Brahman breeders and other kinds of ranchers have been branding cattle for a very long time. In fact, in an article on the language of cattle branding, Smithsonian Magazine explains that Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics illustrate cattle branding, dating the practice back to at least 2700 BC. 

Why Are Cows Branded?

You might be wondering, why are cows branded? Well, as the word “brand” implies, cattle branding serves as a trademark or identity for cattle. 

Cattle brand records are used for a multitude of reasons: 

  • to secure livestock loans
  • to determine ownership of stray livestock
  • to decrease risk of theft
  • to conduct criminal investigations
  • to reference brands in civil litigations 

Branding also helps with herd management. At V8, we use the brand to track each animal’s history, including its age, breeding history, health records, and vaccination status. When you’re a Brahman breeder like we are, this information is critical to help clients make informed decisions. 

When Should You Brand Cattle?

There’s no hard and fast rule about when you should brand cattle. At the V8 cattle ranch, we typically brand a Brahman bull or Brahman heifer right before weaning (around 8 months old). This helps establish a clear and permanent mark on the calf before it grows too large. 

We pride ourselves on being branding pros, working quickly and efficiently to ensure the branding process is done correctly the first time. We feel extreme honor and responsibility in caring for each of our animals, so our goal is to protect them from discomfort and stress.

Is Cattle Branding Legal? 

Yes, cattle branding is not only legal, it’s required by our breed association! That being said, there are some guidelines and rules about properly branding and maintaining your cattle.

First, it’s important to know that (at least in the US), cattle brands are monitored, taxed, and regulated. A cattle brand proves ownership of an animal, and remains the top preventative measure to combat the theft of cattle despite more recently introduced measures like GPS-tagging and DNA-testing.

There is no single governing body for cattle branding. It depends on where you live.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association offers a wealth of information on how to register your brand; if you have any questions about cattle branding (such as location, design, or laws), we recommend consulting this website first.

Additionally, entry into the American Brahman Breeders Association’s Herd Register requires that both a visible ownership brand and an individual number be branded on each animal. The membership rules of the American Brahman Breeders’ Association state: “All animals entered in the Herd Register of the American Brahman Breeders Association shall have an ownership brand and an animal identification number branded in a visible spot on the animal. These brands must be on subject animal prior to the time that application for registration is submitted to the Association….”

When Should You Register Your Ranch Cattle Brand?

Just like your US passport, Texas brand registrations are good for a ten-year period; every decade you need to re-register your brand as they do not automatically renew. V8 Ranch did this back in 2021 – because (fun fact!) brand re-registration always begins in the year ending with a 1. A brand re-registration period typically starts on the last day of August and closes on the last day of February. If you do not re-register within that period, then your brand is up for grabs by someone else!

Cattle Branding at V8 Ranch

The V8 branding iron represents an original bloodline that now roams six continents. Just like the Louis Vuitton monogram or the Nike swoosh, our brand is a symbol of authenticity, and our guarantee of an animal we’re willing to stake our reputation on. It’s the symbol of our commitment, our promise of integrity, and the passion of eight generations who have devoted their lives to creating a superior Brahman cattle breeding process and selection program.

Cattle Brand Meanings

While some Brahman cattle ranches prefer fancy designs as brands, we honor our legacy by maintaining the classic V8 brand that started back in 1944. 

When Sloan Williams purchased the V8 herd, all cattle carried the V8 brand on their left hip. This tradition continues today. 

Cattle Brand Symbol Meaning - V8 Ranch Cattle Brand Example

Cattle Brand Symbol Meaning – V8 Ranch Cattle Brand Example

Animal branded with C shoulder brand.

Animal branded with P shoulder brand.

Brand #1: Ranch Ownership

The first brand indicates that this Brahman cattle is owned by V8 Ranch.

Brand #2: Animal Identification Number

To mark our individual animals, V8 Ranch uses a chronological sequence of numbers based on calving dates. The first V8 animal was branded as 1. Number 2 followed, and we continued sequentially until we reached number 999. 

The sequence then followed with branding as 1/1 (read One over One), with the bottom number representing the thousands. So, animal 123/4 (One Twenty-Three over Four) is the 4,123rd animal born on the ranch. Brahman heifers and Brahman bulls have their own set of numbers, which means there is a Miss V8 123/4 and a Mr. V8 123/4.

Brand #3: Family Member Ownership

As their family grew, Sloan and Mollie Williams wanted to find a way to ensure future generations would be able to continue their heritage as Brahman breeders. Each child born into the Williams’ family tree receives the best heifer calf of that year’s calf crop.

Sloan and Jim wanted a way to let the children know which cattle were theirs when they drove through the pastures; they settled on shoulder brands, which can now be seen on a number of the ranch’s cattle.  You might see any of the following shoulder brands as you tour the ranch:

  • C: Established 1983, signifies cattle owned by Catherine Sloan Williams Neumayr (Jim Williams’ daughter)
  • P: Established 1997, signifies cattle owned by Payton Sloan Powell (Jan Williams Powell’s daughter)
  • K: Established 2017, signifies cattle owned by Knox Harrison Neumayr (Catherine Sloan Williams Neumayr’s son)

Now that you understand our branding system, you might be wondering, what happens after the 9,999th bull or female is born on the ranch? This has been a recent topic of discussion within the family. We are currently deciding whether to use 1/10 for the 10,000 heifer or bull or to roll over and start again with 1 (so we don’t have 5 numbers on the leg). If you have a preference, tell us in the comments below.

Brahman Cattle Branding Day at V8 Ranch


V8 Ranch manager Jim Williams always says, “The magic is in the cows.”

When you invest in one of our Brahman Cattle for sale, you can trust that if they’re branded V8, they were born at V8. For those of us who appreciate tradition and heritage, each V8-branded animal signifies something special — a vow of the finest quality, a distinguished lineage, and an unwavering dedication to upholding timeless authenticity.

We also invite you to see our American Brahman cattle ranch in person! You can click here to schedule a complimentary tour at or just swing on by our Boling, Texas location – we’d be thrilled to see you!

You may also like…

1 Comment

  1. Joe C. Paschal

    Nicely done!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Office Location

6329 FM 1096
Boling, Texas 77420

Phone Contacts

979-657-3223 (fax)


M-F:  9:00 AM to 5:00 PM 
Weekends: Appointment Only

V8 Ranch, and the V8 brand are registered trademarks in the United States of America and may not be used without permission.