A registered cattle brand is a design that has been registered with a state livestock agency or Texas county clerk's office for the purpose of identifying the ownership of animals marked with that design. Cattle brands are usually placed on the animal's ribs or hip.
Branding of livestock can be traced back to about 2700 B.C.E. and is known to have been practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, beginning with Hernando Cortez, who used a design composed of three crosses to mark his stock.
The purposes of branding are to identify the legal owner of a branded animal and to deter theft. While other systems of animal identification exist, brands have the advantages of being simple, permanent and easily seen. Registered brands are considered personal property and can be sold, transferred or inherited so long as the registration is kept in good standing.
Hot irons and freeze branding are the most common methods of applying brands, though the latter is more often used on horses than cattle and cannot be registered for use on cattle in some states. A good brand design is easy to remember and difficult to alter.