So old farmer Joe has 100 cows in his paddock, he knows them each individually, he can tell Arthur from Martha and Bill from Ben…. but Joe’s neighbour Jim has 100 cows too, Jim doesn’t know is cows are well as Joe does and one day he noticed he had 5 fewer cows in his paddock.. he approached Joe and asked him to check his cows to see if some had wandered into their neighbouring paddock (because we all know it is greener over there). Sure enough Jow had 5 extra cows, Joe asked Jim… you prove to me which ones are yours and you can take them back home with you. Jim didn’t know his cows individually and had no way to prove the 5 extra cows were his.
The two farmers sat over a cup of hot tea in the middle of nowhere.. the tea got their minds thinking about how they could prove ownership of their cows beyond simply knowing their names and distinguishable black or brown spots. Eureka Jim yelled… what if we put ribbons around their necks – you can use blue, I will use green… Joe enlightened Jim to the fact the ribbons could be swapped and this wasn’t the solution.. Then Joe had it, what if we put our signatures on the cows, we could brand them with a hot iron and then we will always be able to tell who’s cow is whos!
And there you have it, this is how branding was established. The brand was a feature of the cow to show ownership.
Note: Joe and Jim are fictitious characters in this portrayal of a true story. And the image above looks more like an ass than a cows butt but you get the picture.