There are over 50,000 livestock brands in Montana, used to identify livestock, prevent theft and used for traceability purposes. Many have been in the same family or ranch for over 100 years.
Every 10 years, those who own a brand for cattle, horses, sheep and bison in the state must renew their brands with the Montana Department of Livestock.
Mike Honeycutt, executive officer of the livestock department, explained how the brand renewal process is administered.
“We are heading into the period where we renew brands once every 10 years,” said Honeycutt. “The last time we did it was in 2011. So, beginning Jan. 1 of 2021, the period for re-recording your brand and keeping that in your ownership will open up. That will be open through Dec. 31 of 2021."
State law requires that every 10 years, for a one-year period, brand owners can renew their brands.
“We have about 50,000 brands, give or take on our registry,” Honeycutt said. “I'm sure people want to maintain and hold onto those brands. They'll have to get those re-recorded during that 12-month period to maintain ownership of those over the 10 years that runs through 2031.”
Even though the re-recording of brands begins in January 2021, the department said it's important that brand owners make sure their contact information is correct. This way it ensures you receive all the information the department will be sending out.
“All brand owners will receive a notification from us,” said Honeycutt. “It’s important if you've changed addresses or your address has been updated that we have the appropriate address. That way you will get our mail notifications.
Brand owners can update their mailing information online or in person at the livestock department office in Helena.
It's been 20 years since the brand renewal fee has been increased. The ranchers that make up the Montana Board of Livestock have approved a $75 increase to make the total fee $175.
“Obviously, we're trying to plan out 10 years ahead,” Honeycutt explained. “You know the cost of everything goes up. At our last board meeting, the board did approve an increase by looking at the financial data we presented. They decided to move forward with a $175 brand fee. But we still do have to take that through the rule-making process. So, there will still be opportunities for the public to weigh in on that decision before it's finally enacted now.”
All Montana Brands must be renewed in 2021 regardless of when they are obtained or transferred. For more on the brand renewal process contact the Montana Department of Livestock at 406-444-7323 or http://liv.mt.gov/.