Every spring cattle ranchers in Montana will brand their calves.
Last weekend one Melrose ranch kicked off their spring season by branding their newest additions.
"We're branding the calves,” said Mike Pettit. It's kind of the deal of the west. You mark them so everybody knows who owns them."
On Saturday the Kearns Ranch went branding.
"We'll rope the calves by the hind feet,” Pettit said. “Somebody will get on and hold their front leg. We get a hot iron, and of course, everybody has their own brand. It's all registered to the ranch or the person who owns it."
Branding at the Kearns Ranch in Melrose is something they do every spring.
Saturday, the ranch branded almost 200 calves, and it took most of the Melrose community to get it done.
"It's an identification,” said Chris Schalk. “So when you kick them out to the summer pasture, or take them to sales, they will see the brand. You have to go through a brand inspector to tell you whose cows they are."
Along with branding the calves, the ranch also administers vaccinations.
In total, the cows receive three shots to help combat multiple diseases.
"You vaccinate for respiratory and Black Leg, which is a calf disease that you have to vaccinate for,” said Pettit. “So that's what you do it in the spring for."
With the help of the cowboys, horses, and cows the branding is completed, and one of the west's oldest traditions lives on for another year.
The ranchers say they only brand the hide of the animal.
They could be branded a second time if they are sold to new owners.