South Dakota brand law dates back to Dakota Territory 1862. At that time, the Land Office was required to maintain a record of brands in the county or area. In 1897, a Brand and Mark Committee was established by the Legislature to oversee the registration of livestock brands. The Committee published a Brand Book in 1898-99 containing 2,066 registered brands. This Committee was dissolved in 1925 when the Legislature transferred brand registration authority to the Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Industry under the supervision of the Department Secretary.

When the State Legislature convened in 1937, the State Brand Board was created and given authority for livestock brand registration and ownership inspection. The board has Quasi Judicial, Quasi Legislative, Administrative and Special Budgetary functions. The Board is comprised of five members who are appointed by the Governor for a three-year term. The board operates entirely on user fees generated from livestock brand registration, renewals, transfers and inspections. No general fund money is used by the board.

The Board provides a program for livestock brand registration, ownership inspection and livestock theft and fraud investigation and brand law violations. The board employs a Director to administer the operation and financial affairs of the Brand Office. The board also employs a Chief Investigator and two Criminal Investigators who are certified law enforcement officers with authority to investigate and enforce brand laws and a Chief Brand Inspector and a group of Brand Inspectors who carry out the brand inspection program.


  • To provide livestock owners with a system of livestock identification through brand registration.

  • To assure proper ownership of livestock by brand inspection at time of sale or prior to removal of livestock from the ownership inspection area.

  • To investigate livestock loss or theft and apprehend persons accused of violating brand laws.

  • The Brand Board Office maintains a record of over 26,000 registered livestock brands. It also provides for the transfer of brand ownership, the registration of new brands and the renewal of registered brands. Every five years all brands registered in South Dakota are renewed by the brand owners. After each renewal period the Brand Board publishes a Brand Book of all currently registered brands.

    The Board provides livestock ownership inspection which is required at auction markets and at public and private sales located west of the Missouri River in South Dakota. Inspection is also provided at designated points located outside the South Dakota livestock ownership inspection area.




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