It’s branding season across the Panhandle, and in honor of National Beef Month in May, The Chadron Record is sponsoring its first-ever “Match the Brand” contest.

Livestock branding is a tradition that dates back at more than 4,000 years, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The earliest recorded depiction of branding can be found in an Egyptian tomb from 2700 BC, and Roman literature and the Bible both allude to the practice, says the magazine’s article titled “Decoding the Range: The Secret Language of Cattle Branding.”

The practice was taken up in the Americas after it was introduced by Spanish explorers, with the three Latin crosses of the brand belonging to Hernan Cortes believed to be one of the earliest used in the Western Hemisphere, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Today, it’s still used to identify cattle, whether it’s done with fire-heated or electric irons or with liquid nitrogen.

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For the Record’s “Match the Brand” contest, we’re asking cattlemen and women from Dawes, Sioux and Sheridan counties to send us two photos – one of your brand (on a cow, on the fence, the side of your pickup – anything goes) and one of work taking place on your ranch (branding, cattle drives, a close-up of your corrals, etc).

Everyone who sends in photos will be eligible for a random drawing to win a prize (yet to be determined). But the real fun begins in the Record’s Salute to Beef issue, scheduled for publication May 15. Record staff will select several of the entries to publish in that edition and ask our readers to match the brand photo with the ranch work photo. The individual with the most correct matches will win a new gas grill, courtesy of the Record.

Photos are due May 8 by 5 p.m. and can be sent to kerri.rempp@lee.net. Each entry must include both photos and the name and address of the individual entering them.

After the Salute to Beef issue is published, the public will be able to fill out an answer form in that issue with their best guesses matching the photo pairs. The mix-and-match answer forms will be due in The Chadron Record office by May 31 at 3 p.m. The answers can be mailed to PO Box 1084, Chadron, Neb., 69337, dropped off in person at 248 West Second St. in Chadron. The winner of the grill will be announced in the Record’s June 5 issue.

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