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What Is The Angle System For Branding?

The "angle system" is a branding system used for branding livestock.

While the angle system is used for a variety of branding purposes, in the United States it is perhaps best known as the branding system the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses to brand BLM horses, aka "mustangs."

The Angle System for branding offers simplicity, universal application, and the need for only two branding irons to make any number.

Here are the symbols used in the Angle System. For more information, please continue reading.

The Angle Brand System symbols


The Angle System (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.

Perhaps the Angle System is best recognized in the United States as the system used by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for freeze branding BLM horses, aka "mustangs". We have more on this below under the heading "BLM Brands."

How It Works

As mentioned above the Angle System offers simplicity, and needs only two branding irons to make any number.

You might also like: Pictures of mustang horses.

As previously shown at the top of this page, here again are the symbols used in the angle brand system. The numbers shown (1, 2, 3, etc.) are NOT part of the system; only the double bars and right angle symbols are used. We put the numbers next to each symbol so you can easily see which number each symbol represents.

The Angle Brand System symbols


The angle system is commonly used to brand both cattle and horses. When branding horses, the horse's year of birth is often shown 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. The brand begins with a symbol to indicate the brand is registered with the United States Government, followed by the horse's year of birth, then an individual identifying number.

A bar is also placed under all or part of the numbers after the year of birth. The bar 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 the time 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 can sometimes make difficult-to-read characters easier to understand.

BLM freeze brand on a horse


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