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Branding Law Enacted – Today in History: February 5
Illustrations showing each farmer's branding earmarks

Early hand-drawn illustrations showing each farmer's branding earmarks
- Middlebury Historical Society

On February 5, 1644, Connecticut enacted the first branding law in the colonies. The act called for all livestock owners to ear-mark or brand their cattle, sheep, and swine that were over 6 months of age by May 1, 1644, and to register their marks in the town book. Livestock owners not following the law would be fined “thirty-four cents a head,” with half allocated to the complainer and the other half to the town treasury.

The General Court passed the law to “prevent disputes and differences that may arise in the owning and claiming of cattle, sheep, and swine that may be lost or stray away.”

Learn More


“Middlebury Historical Society,” 2017. Link.

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