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Bureau of Livestock Identification

The Bureau of Livestock Identification (BLI) is the State's brand registration and inspection program protecting cattle owners in California against loss of animals by theft, straying, or misappropriation. BLI applies the Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) to protect and regulate the livestock industry. BLI has four offices located throughout California. This bureau is financed, in its entirety, through brand registration and inspection fees paid by cattle owners.

The following reference information is not intended to be a complete statement of the law pertaining to cattle protection in California. These are merely excerpts from the law. All information refers to the California Food and Agricultural code.

Reference Information

When Inspection of Cattle is Required

Section 21051 is amended to read: Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, cattle shall be inspected as follows:

  • Whenever cattle are sold or ownership is transferred.
  • Prior to transportation out of any designated modified point-of-origin inspection area, for purposes other than sale or slaughter and no change of ownership is involved.
  • Exception to above: If cattle are moved to a destination point (salesyard, slaughterhouse, or registered feedlot), they will be inspected at the destination point instead of point of origin.
  • Prior to transportation out of state.
  • Upon entry into a registered feedlot.
  • Prior to slaughter.
  • Prior to release or sale from a public saleyard or public or private cattle sales market.
  • Prior to transportation or movement from premises designated as quarantine, restricted, or isolated areas pursuant to Section 9565.

Per Head Fee Payment Required for Inspection

Per Head Fee You Are Required To Pay For Inspection - Effective July 1, 2021
All inspections are $ 1.40 with the following exceptions:

  • $.65 California cattle into registered feedlot, from a Feedlot to out-of-state sale, from a Feedlot to out-of-state pasture movement.
  • $.40 Out-of-state cattle and cattle from a California saleyard shipped direct to a registered feedlot.
  • $.60 Saleyard re-inspection.
  • $1.90 Hide Inspections.
  • $1.00 California Beef Council on change of ownership.
  • $1.00 California Cattle Council on change of ownership
  • Effective January 1, 2019, a new service charge will be charged at each site at which an inspection is performed, except destination inspection sites (for example, salesyards, feedlots, slaughter plants and fairs.)

    The Fee per site is:

    • $25.00 - 29 head or less
    • $15.00 - 30 head or more

Fees (Brand Recording And Penalties):

  • $70.00 - To record a new brand
  • $140.00 - To re-record a brand
  • $70.00 - To transfer a brand
  • $70.00 - Biennial brand renewal fee
  • $100.00 - Reinstatement fee
  • Penalty for using an unrecorded, forfeited or cancelled brand:

    • 1st Violation: $100.00
    • 2nd Violation: $200.00
    • 3rd Violation: $500.00
  • Penalty for shipping a California stray to a destination inspection point, i.e., a saleyard, feedlot or slaughter plant. (This penalty is in addition to any other expenses incurred such as feed and/or transportation in returning the stray to its rightful owner):

    • 1st Violation: $50.00 per animal
    • 2nd Violation: $100.00 per animal
    • 3rd Violation $200.00 per animal
    • 4th Violation $500.00, per animal

Crimes & Offenses

  • An owner may recover four times the value of the cattle, plus interest and reasonable expenses from one who has wrongfully taken, killed, or driven cattle off its usual range. (F & A Code, Section 21855)
  • Any person that is not the owner or does not have the right of possession of any cattle, that is found driving such cattle off its usual range, without the consent of the owner, is guilty of grand theft. (F & A Code, Section 21852)
  • It is unlawful for any person to use an unrecorded, forfeited, or canceled brand.
    (F & A Code, Section 20605)
  • It is unlawful for any person to use a brand on cattle indicating ownership unless the cattle are owned by him or he has been authorized by the owner of the cattle and the brand is recorded under the owner's name and is on file with the Bureau of Livestock Identification.
    (F & A Code, Section 20607)
  • Any person who moves or transports any animal without inspection, as required by law, is liable to the director for a civil penalty in the amount of expenses incurred to investigate and prosecute the violation and return any animals taken unlawfully.
    (F & A Code, Section 21051.3)
  • In addition to any other penalty provided by this chapter (Inspection of cattle), the director may levy a civil penalty against any person who violates this chapter of an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each violation.
    (F & A Code, Section 21051.4)

Modified Point-of-Origin

It is advisable to contact your local Brand Inspector to verify whether your operation is subject to inspection when moving from a modified point-of-origin area.

Special Inspection Permits:

Strays & Fences

Section 17042 is amended to read: Any person that takes up an estray animal shall confine it in a secure place, and shall immediately file with the secretary a notice containing all of the following:

  • A description of the animal seized.
  • The marks and brands, if any.
  • The probable value of the animal.
  • A statement of the date and place where it was taken up and confined

It is a crime to willfully or negligently allow livestock to be unattended upon a public road. This includes the requirement of maintaining a good and substantial fence.
(F & A Code, Section 16902 and 17121)


A brand inspector or peace officer may stop anyone transporting cattle, hides, carcasses, or a portion of a carcass on a public thoroughfare for the purpose of making an investigation.
(F & A Code, Section 20438)

Proof of Ownership

(F & A Code, Section 16522)
Evidence of ownership of an animal or hide may include any of the following:

  • A recorded brand registered in the name of the person in possession of the animal or hide.
  • A brand inspection certificate.
  • A bill of sale from the owner of the brand on the animal or hide.
  • In the case of an unbranded animal or hide, a bill of sale which gives a description of the breed, sex, color, and natural markings, if any.
  • A dairy exemption number. (A dairy exemption number shall be evidence of ownership of cull beef cows and bulls of a recognized dairy breed presented for sale at a registered or posted saleyard or licensed slaughter plant for immediate slaughter. THE DAIRY EXEMPTION NUMBER SHALL BE WRITTEN ON THE BILL OF CONSIGNMENT. (F & A Code, Section 16522.5))
  • An inspector shall seize any bovine animal, horse, mule, or burro, or the hide or carcass of any such animal, which is within any of the following classes:
    • Found in the possession of a person that cannot prove ownership.
    • Presented for inspection and which is not claimed by the consignor or consignee. (F & A Code, Section 16521)
  • Any expense which is incurred in caring for any property seized pursuant to this part shall be paid by the person presenting the property for inspection. The cost of caring for the property so held is a lien upon the property. The lien may be enforced in the manner prescribed by Section 3052 of the Civil Code. (F & A Code, Section 16526)

NOTE: It is mandatory to present proof of ownership documents at the time of Brand Inspection.

Contact Information

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Animal Health and Food Safety Services, Bureau of Livestock Identification
1220 N Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Telephone: 916-900-5006
Fax: 916-900-5335
Or send an email to the bureau: