In the falderal surrounding livestock ID and the tragicomedy that has become the National Animal Identification System, it's too easy to lose sight of one of the most basic incentives to have cattle permanently identified: theft.

The recent spate of cattle rustling, which always increases with the price of cattle, underscores the value of making it harder for thieves to consider stealing from you.

At least one confessed cattle thief says things like brands, ear tags, and feeding away from the road make cattle less desirable targets. Interestingly he also said the presence of a sign stating the producer's affiliation with an organization that prosecutes crime is also a deterrent. In this case, he was referring specifically to signs posted by members of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), an organization well known for its Special Rangers and attention to livestock crime.

TSCRA offers the following theft-prevention tips:

  1. Display TSCRA member sign (or other affiliation) on gates and entrances; it is an excellent deterrent.
  2. Lock gates.
  3. Brand cattle and horses; make sure the brand is recorded with the county clerk (or state brand office).
  4. Put driver's license number on all saddles, tack and equipment.
  5. Video horses and tack. Keep complete and accurate descriptions on file. Establish an organized, easy-to-find, proof-of-ownership file to save valuable time in recovery process.
  6. Count cattle regularly.
  7. Vary the time of feeding. Don't establish a routine.
  8. Be cautious in giving out keys and combinations.
  9. Park trailers and equipment out of view from the roadway.
  10. Keep tack rooms and saddle compartments on trailers locked.
  11. Don't feed in pens.
  12. Participate in neighborhood Crime Watch programs.
  13. Don't build pens close to a roadway.
  14. Never leave keys in tractors or other equipment.
Look for more info, and listen to the comments of a cattle thief, at: