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What Is The Angle System For Branding?

The Angle System for branding (also called the International Alpha Angle System) was developed by Dr. R. Keith Farrell at Washington State University in the 1960s. It is commonly used when freeze branding horses and is perhaps best known in the United States for being used on United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) horses, aka "mustangs". It offers simplicity, universal application, and the need for only two branding irons to make any number. Usually, when using this system the brand is located on the horse's neck. A BLM brand will be located on the left side of the neck.

You might also like: Pictures of mustang horses.

Here are the symbols used in the angle brand system. Only the bar and right angle symbols are used. We have put numbers next to each symbol so you can easily see which number each symbol represents.

The Angle Brand System symbols

 

Typically, when using the angle system the horse's year of birth is shown first by using the last 2 digits of the year the horse was born, stacked on top of each other. The numbers following the year of birth are a unique number series used to identify an individual horse.

For example, this brand:

An example brand

 

Would be read as:

How the example brand is interpreted

The "02" is the year the horse was born. The "9 8 5 6 7 4" is a unique number assigned to a particular horse.


BLM Brands

The angle brand system is used to brand United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) horses (aka "mustangs"). When the BLM uses this system, they place the brand on the left side of the horse's neck, and add an extra symbol at the beginning of the brand, in front of the year the horse was born, to indicate the brand is registered with the United States Government. A bar is also placed under all or part of the numbers after the year. The bar underneath the numbers acts as a guideline indicating where the actual bottom of each character is. This "true bottom" guideline can be helpful when reading brands on horses whose necks have arched or dipped due to the horse gaining weight, losing weight, aging, etc., since they were branded.

 

An example of a BLM freeze brand:

An example of a BLM brand

 

Photo of an actual BLM freeze brand. The last character on this brand is difficult to read. Trimming the hairs at the site of the brand can sometimes make any characters that are difficult to read clear again.

BLM freeze brand on a horse

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