Cattle and other animals are branded for identification. There are two methods commonly employed in branding. Hot branding (aka, “fire” branding) is by far the most common and involves using a red-hot iron to burn off the top layers of skin, leaving a scar in the desired design. Cold branding (aka, “freeze” branding) is less common and is done by using liquid nitrogen to freeze the top layers of skin, killing the pigmentation cells. The result is white hair that is easier for farmers to read on darker colored animals.
Pain relief medication is done at the farmer’s discretion. Because it is not required by law, it is thought to be optional and is extremely rare as it is viewed as an unnecessary extra expense. Branding is extremely painful and animals must be roughly restrained to keep them from kicking and flailing in their agony as they try to escape.
Branding strips a being of their individuality and turns them into a number — an object. When we view a living, feeling being as an object, it becomes far easier for us to abuse and exploit them. Can you think of any other instances throughout history that robbed beings of their personhood through branding?