Branding Practices on Four Dairies in Kantale, Sri Lanka
Center for Animal Welfare, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 May 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle
Branding cattle with hot irons is a painful procedure, inflicting severe burns that take weeks to heal. Although Sri Lanka prohibits hot-iron branding, the practice is still common in some areas of the country but has not been described. We observed branding practices on four smallholder farms and identified welfare concerns and challenges impeding adoption of alternative methods of identification, such as ear tags. Farmers used multiple irons to mark their initials and, in some cases, their address, with the largest brands extending across the ribs and hip. Farmers did not consider ear tags a viable alternative to hot-iron branding because of issues with security and tag retention. Hot-iron branding raises serious animal welfare concerns and efforts to introduce more welfare-friendly alternatives are needed.