There’s an App for That

Ever find a strange cow on the wrong side of a fence and not know what to do? In Montana, there’s an app for that.

The Montana Department of Livestock has released a free smartphone application identifying all 55,000 livestock brands registered with the state. Users can enter characteristics of a brand to create a list of all state brands similar to their description. The brand’s owner is also listed. “We have more recorded brands in this state than any other state in the West except for Texas,” said Christian Mackay, Montana Department of Livestock executive officer. “We’ve got something like 55,000 registered brands in this state.”

The application should be a helpful tool for brand inspectors and police officers dealing with lost livestock. Even state inspectors in the field haven’t had access to the entire brand catalogue at their fingertips, Mackay said. Regional inspectors have worked from brand books that include brands in their area, but not the entire state.

The application is also likely to have non-ranch followers. Those simple characters burned into an animal’s side provide considerable information about the animal, where it’s from, the name of its owner, as well as where its owner is from. The cow and cowboy don’t always share the same address. The technology staff at the Department of Livestock created the application in-house for about $1,000. At this time, there are no immediate plans for a Brand Search app for any Canadian provinces, but they are interested.