General Information

Iowa law, Chapter 169A, Code of Iowa,, requires that a livestock brand must be recorded with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to be legally used in Iowa. It is unlawful for any person to use an unrecorded brand for branding livestock. “Livestock” is defined as horses, cattle, sheep, mules, or asses. A livestock brand may be used as evidence of ownership in court only if both of the following conditions are met:

1. The animal on which the brand is affixed is defined as livestock for purposes of the branding law.

2. The brand is properly recorded with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and is used properly.

Recording Process

Only a person owning livestock may record a brand in Iowa. To record a brand, the person must do both of the following:

  1. Submit an application to record a brand with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The application must do all of the following:
    • State the name and mailing address of the person for whom the application is being made.
    • Provide a clear drawing of the design for which a recording is being sought.
    • Identify one of the six locations on the livestock where the brand will be applied.
  2. Submit the brand recording fee of $25 for each location on which the brand design is recorded.

Upon receipt of a completed application and the fee, the Brand Recorder will research the proposed brand design to assure that the design does not duplicate or too closely resemble a recorded brand design that is already currently recorded or is in a five-year forfeiture status. Under Iowa law, a forfeited brand shall not be issued to any other person for five years following the date of forfeiture. If the proposed brand design is available, the Brand Recorder will record the brand design and will issue a brand certificate of recording to the owner.

Each location is considered a separate brand requiring a separate $25 fee and the issuance of a separate certificate of recording. A brand recording is effective for a five-year period of time and may be renewed.

Brand Renewal

A livestock brand must be renewed every five years after its year of issue. Renewal notices are sent to the recorded owner prior to the expiration date of the brand. Notices are typically sent out in November or December and are due in the Brand Recorder’s office by the following January 1. Notices are sent to the last address of the owner as provided to the Brand Recorder’s office. A brand owner is responsible for notifying the Brand Recorder’s office of any change in the owner’s address. At the time of renewal, the owner of the brand must submit a $25 renewal fee for each brand being renewed.

Brand Designs and Locations

Department rules, Chapter 21—63, Iowa Administrative Code,  provides that at the time an application for a livestock brand design is received it must specify the location on the livestock where the brand will be located. There are six recognized locations:

1. The right shoulder
2. The right rib
3. The right hip
4. The left shoulder
5. The left rib
6. The left hip

Each location is considered a separate brand, but the same person may record the design on more than one location. Prior to 1996, a single brand design could be recorded for a different person for each location. Thus, up to six different people could have recorded the same brand design, each of which would have been recorded for a different location. In 1996, legislation eliminated this option for new brand designs; however, the legislation allowed the renewal of duplicate livestock brand designs recorded prior to July 1, 1996. The renewal of duplicate brand designs that were recorded prior to July 1, 1996, is allowed only during the six months period following the renewal deadline. A duplicate brand design which is not renewed by July 1 of the year renewal is due will not be reissued.

All brands recorded after July 1, 1996, must have a unique design that is separate and distinct from those brand designs that are already recorded.

Brand Transfers

A livestock brand is proof of ownership only for the person in whose name the brand is recorded. A livestock brand may be sold or transferred to another person. If this is done, then the transfer must be recorded with the Brand Recorder’s office. A transfer form is available on this web site . There is a fee of $15 per brand to record a transfer. A certificate of recording will be issued to the new owner. If the person transferring the brand design has the design recorded for more than one location, then the person transferring the brand design must either transfer all the brands for all locations or the person must forfeit the brand for locations that are not being transferred. The person transferring the brand design may not transfer some locations and retain others. The person transferring the brand design may not transfer the brand design with differing locations to different people.

A livestock brand that is transferred at the time of renewal is subject to the $25 renewal fee and the $15 transfer fee for each brand.


Brand Forfeiture

If the owner of a brand fails to renew the recording of a livestock brand by the July 1 following when the renewal is due, the brand will be designated as a forfeited brand. A forfeited brand is not legal for use and may not be eligible for use to prove ownership in court. The design of a forfeited brand will be held for five years without the design being available for recording by another person. Upon lapsing of the five-year forfeiture period, the forfeited design is then made available to another person for recording. After lapsing of the five-year forfeiture period, the former owner of the brand design loses all rights to retain the brand design without recording the design anew.



Livestock Brand Application

Livestock Brand Transfer of Title

Livestock Brand Directory

For more information contact:
Judy Allison
Phone: 515-281-8604
Fax: 515-281-8025