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With branding policy update, Montana gives livestock producers more design options

Grass-fed, antibiotic-free cattle gather at a farm in Yamhill, Ore. For the first time, government statistics show America's pigs, cattle and poultry are getting fewer antibiotic drugs.

There are about 48,000 livestock brands actively registered in Montana.

That makes it hard to come up with new designs, says Ethan Wilfore with the state Department of Livestock.

“A lot of folks were having trouble getting brands that they wanted, specifically two-character brands,” he said.

Some people had to settle for three-character brands. That’s because under the state’s prior policy new brand applications were limited to letters, numbers, and a handful of shapes.

But under the Montana Department of Livestock’s updated brand policy that went into effect earlier this month, more design possibilities are opening up for the way livestock are identified.

The new policy says if there’s an image that’s among the already registered brands, you can incorporate it into your new brand application.

“Arrows or spears, stars — there’s actually quite a few — bells," Wilfore said. "I honestly couldn’t even begin to really get into a lot of the options."

Under the updated policy, Wilfore anticipates the department will see an uptick in the number of brands registered in Montana. For those seeking inspiration Wilfore recommends checking out the brand books on the Montana Department of Livestock’s website.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.