Friday, December 5, 2008

Freezing your ...

Er no, probably not what you think!

We bought Nadia 11 years ago as an aged (we didn't know exactly how old she was at the time) full blooded Arabian without papers. One day soon after, I was grooming her and I found this mark under her mane. I did some research and I found out that it was a freeze brand. Nowadays, they insert microchips, but, in the 80's, freeze branding was very popular among Arabians. I've read of several instances where stolen or lost horses have been recovered using this identification method.

This is some information about freeze branding from Wikipedia:

In contrast to traditional hot-iron branding, freeze branding uses a branding iron that has been chilled with a coolant such as dry ice or liquid nitrogen. Rather than burning a scar into the animal, a freeze brand damages the pigment-producing hair cells, causing the animal's hair to grow white where the brand has been applied. To apply a freeze brand, the hair coat of the animal is shaved so that the bare skin is exposed, then the frozen iron is applied to the bare area for a period of time that varies with both the species of animal and the color of its hair coat: Shorter times are used on dark-colored animals, simply causing the hair follicles to lose all color and regrow as white hairs. Longer times are needed on animals with white hair coats, as the brand is applied long enough to permanently stop the hair from growing in the branded area and only skin remains.

Freeze brands cause less damage to the animal's hide than hot iron brands, are less painful, and can be more visible. Horses are frequently freeze-branded. At this time, hogs cannot be successfully freeze branded as their hair pigment cells are better protected. Also, freeze branding is slower, more expensive, less predictable (more care is required in application to assure desired results), and in some places does not constitute a legal brand on cattle. When an animal grows a long hair coat, the freeze brand is still visible, but its details are not always clear. Thus, is it sometimes necessary to shave or closely trim the hair so that a sharper image of a freeze brand can be viewed.

A horse (or any animal) that is going to have a freeze brand applied will need to have the hair shaved off of the branding site. Hair is an excellent insulator and needs to be removed so that the extreme cold of the freeze branding iron can be applied directly to the skin. Then the freeze branding iron, made of metal such as brass or copper that retains a cold temperature, is submerged into the coolant. Immediately before the freeze branding iron is ready to be applied the animal's skin is rubbed, squirted, or sprayed with a generous amount of 99% alcohol, then the freeze branding iron is removed from the coolant and held onto the skin with firm pressure for several seconds. The exact amount of time will vary according to the kind of animal, the thickness of its skin, the type of metal the branding iron is made of, the type of coolant being used, and other factors.

Immediately after the freeze branding iron is removed from the skin an indented outline of the brand will be visible. Within seconds, however, the outline will disappear and within several minutes after that the brand outline will reappear as swollen, puffy skin. Once the swelling subsides, for a short time, the brand will be difficult or impossible to see, but in a few days, the branded skin will begin to flake, and within three to four weeks, the brand will begin to take on its permanent appearance.

I even figured out how to decipher it, thanks to the AHA (Arabian Horse Association). It's her registration number, in code. I found out her real name is Nari Asbah. If you say it fast, it kind of sounds like Nadia! Her date of birth is April 28, 1983, and she has had one foal, SV First Edition. I also found out that I'd met her father once...

It was 30 years ago and I was considering breeding my half Arabian mare, Shahreen. I visited an Arabian farm and Rogue Ama was one of their stallions. It turns out that he was Nadia's sire. He was known for his extremely gentle personality, just like my sweet old gal, Nadia.
For the record, I never did breed Shahreen. Around breeding time, she was hurt by a runaway horse and cart as she stood tied to a hitching post. She got a hernia in her side from the accident. After she recovered, I never pursued the breeding. That's one of the reasons why I so desperately wanted to follow through with Annie's breeding in spite of all the problems we faced.

Freezing your ...- song: Sweet Thing, Reprise, artist: David Bowie, album: Diamond Dogs


Cara said...

Very cool! Even without the papers, you can still know her breeding. Wow!

I had Janow implanted with a microchip many years ago. Probably 1993 or '94. A freeze brand indicating the presence of the ship was optional. I chose to have the freezebrand. Afterward, if I had to choose again, I would choose not. He found it very painfull for about as much time as I would have expected from hot iron branding.

If the choice were between permanent ID and no permanant ID, I would do it, but not in addition to a chip.

Melanie said...

LOL!!!! The post below is too cute! Buddha looks like he is quite full of himself. :)

How horrible that Nadia was struck by a runaway horse and cart!!! They can do a lot of damage, so she is lucky that she was not killed...thank goodness!

Too funny that you are doing your sociology paper on!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Awww, sweet little Nadia. :)
Funny how, in that photo, her spots really stand out. She looks all white most of the time.

I never knew most of that stuff about freeze-branding. It's really fascinating.
I'm glad they don't use the hot branding on horses much anymore.
I know Baby Doll doesn't have a freeze-brand, but I wonder if she has a tattoo. I've never looked.
I figure with her registration papers, it probably doesn't matter, but it's is still pretty interesting.


Fantastyk Voyager said...

Cara- I have never had my horses branded or tagged. Nadia was bought that way.

Melanie- Nadia wasn't born yet when I was considering breeding Shahreen. But yes, I was very lucky that Shahreen's injury was minor. A stupid girl was trying to train her horse to cart and the horse ran away from her. Poor Shahreen had nowhere to go. Her injury was minor. She developed a hernia from the trauma which resulted in a spot on her flank that constantly "leaked" fluids for months although fortunately she didn't need surgery or anything else.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Lisa- you would see a brand and the tattoos are mostly done on racing Thoroughbreds.

Yes, Nadia appears to be all white but when you get up close to her she has black and gray marks and even little spots everywhere.

GreyWolf said...

Wow, Very interesting even to a non horse person. I think Lisa is rubbing off on you. Now I have another Blog School to attend. Thanks for the lesson.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

GreyWolf, thankis for coming by.
You should check out some of my early posts: Like Some Cat From Japan, for instance, all about Japanese Chins and why they aren't dogs!

lytha said...

Thanks for posting those freeze brand pics. In summer, I'll do the same and post Baasha's in my blog. Why not now? Cuz his brand is mostly hidden by hair, and get this, my clippers don't work here cuz Europe and the US have a totally different electrical current system. I thought I could get an adapter, and use my clippers, but no, not with clippers, they are finicky I guess. So I had to wet down the hair around his freezemark, cuz a German Customs agent came by to inspect him when he arrived from the US.

They needed to prove that he was in fact the horse we say he was. This was the best way. They photographed his freezemark several times. I was so mad my clippers don't work!

I remember standing in the customs office earlier, pointing to his registration papers, explaining the freezebrand code to them. This is the big A that means he's purebred (a sideways A means half-arab). This is the year he was born (the two digits next to the A). This is his registration number. You can compare with the real number on paper and see where the numbers are duplicated, the symbols are also. A 5 in his year of birth matches the little symbol for the 5 in his reg. number, e.g. They were very very thorough with the matter of me importing my horse into their region of Germany.

After a long while they accepted that he is the horse we said he is.


I wonder why freezemarking is not done on Arabs as much anymore...

Fantastyk Voyager said...

WOW, you were lucky he had the brand for them to check. What would they have done if he wasn't branded? Would the color markings on the registration papers be sufficient?

I have a book on how to decipher the coding but I can't find it at the moment. I will try to find it and post more about it.