Pacual Hernandez
Pacual Hernandez

If you didn’t attend the Ranch Health & Security Workshop, you missed the presentation from Howard Brittain, Special Ranger for the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). He provided tips for protecting your ranch property against theft. He also discussed topics such as open vs. closed range counties and brand registration. I’ll share the highlights.

Let’s start with “open vs. closed range”. Since 1876, the Texas Legislature has allowed for the passage of local stock laws that modify the common law rule of open range. In open range counties, property owners are responsible for building and maintaining a fence that is sufficient to exclude others’ livestock off their property. In a closed-range jurisdiction, landowners must fence in (to enclose and restrain) their animals or face liability.

However, open range does not exempt livestock owners from damages that may be caused by trespassing livestock. Even though a county is open range, livestock are not permitted to roam unattended along a U.S. or state highway. A livestock owner may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor for allowing his or her livestock to do so.

Brands and registration were also discussed. In Texas, brands have to be re-registered every 10 years. The next brand re-registration period will begin Aug. 31, 2021. If you do not re-register within that period, then your brand is up for grabs by someone else. Brands must be re-registered within that period regardless of the date it was originally registered.

Texas brands are registered on a county-by-county basis; therefore, another person can have the same brand registered in the same location on livestock in another county. The same brand can be used within the same county by another individual as long as it is registered and branded in a different location on the livestock. The location of the brand is as important as the brand itself.

So what are some common-sense strategies for protecting against ranch theft? Here are a few tips from TSCRA:

1. Display TSCRA member sign 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.

4. Put driver’s license number on all saddles, tack and equipment.

5. Videotape 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. Don’t establish a routine when feeding. Vary the times you feed.

8. Be cautious about who gets keys and combinations.

9. If possible, park trailers and equipment where they are 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 Crime Watch programs.

13. Don’t build pens close to a roadway.

14. Never leave keys in tractors or other equipment.

For more information about Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, visit http://tscra.org .