Can you help a reader to describe this cattle brand?

Beef Central, 27/02/2024

Fluent in the language of livestock brands?

If so we’re hoping you can help to answer a Beef Central reader’s question.

Catherine recently posted a comment on Beef Central’s article about the Morrisey family’s history forging livestock brands and handling equipment in the same Jandowae shed in rural Queensland for more than a century.

Catherine was eager to learn some more about a piece of her own history, asking for advice on how to read an old cattle brand that has been passed down through her family.

The heirloom, pictured below, features an N (or Z) inside a circle, with a bar attached.

My family has an old branding iron passed down and I’d love to know the proper way to read it!

It is an N inside a circle with a bar attached to the right side of the circle.

The hazy recollection is that it was called Circle N 1, but would the bar be read as a number? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

It’s hard to imagine a better source of experts on this subject than Beef Central readers, so we thought we’d put this question to you.

Know how this should be read? Any thoughts or contributions welcome in the comment box below.



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  1. Wallace Gunthorpe, 02/03/2024

    Could be an old unused sale brand?

  2. Jeff Forster, 01/03/2024

    Circle lazy N over bar
    It would be 2 brands circle and bar with an N which can only fit lazy
    Definitely would blotch between the bar and the “ort”.
    as for the dot ,they old brands pre the rego book didn’t have one
    So it could be really old however looking at the picture no brand maker of any experience would design or even make one .
    To confirm that, check the steel make up and if it was made in a. Forge .
    This photo looks too “neat” eg welded and the steel used is way to thick .
    Might work on wood!!

  3. Pat Sweeney, 01/03/2024

    Circle N the bar on the side may be a guide for the N to be in the correct alignment.

  4. Greg Brown, 01/03/2024

    I would suggest as it stands in the photo, the brand is upside down. Turn it up the way it should be it would be CIRCLeNBar

  5. Charles Nason, 01/03/2024

    I suggest Jenny got it in one
    She echos my initial impression that it would blotch badly and would be unreadable

  6. Glenn, 01/03/2024

    Not a Qld brand. No dot. N inside circle beside vertical bar. Vertical section of N appears to be recessed? May not have been used on stock?

  7. Peter Drayton, 01/03/2024

    The Bar would be the bottom of the brand.
    Therefore = Circle Z
    That will be a Carton Beer thanks

  8. Jenny James, 28/02/2024

    no dot means NT symbol brand – did you have cattle or place in NT so as a NTer we would read it
    horizontal N inside circlel over bar.
    However can’t imagine it being used as it would blotch to a mess so wondered if someone was dreaming up a brand and decided it would blotch and never used it.

  9. Peter, 28/02/2024

    Not a 100% sure but remember someone telling me you read from large to small & that numbers are usually separated like letters so maybe it could read circle bar n ? Just a thought from a long time ago conversation.

  10. Peter Williams, 27/02/2024

    So where is the dot which should be on the bottom right side of the symbol brand? You could go to the Qld registery but it may have been dropped for lack of an annual update. With symbol brands most anything is possible. Technically this is a poor brand due to the high likelyhood of blotching with so many close elements.

  11. DAVID MATTHEW PHELAN, 27/02/2024


  12. Jane bell, 27/02/2024

    First of all, I don’t read the letter as an “N”. The second stroke should come from the top, not the bottom! Not sure about the rest -either a one or a capital “I”.
    We have an N in our brand and it is made correctly. I believed all brands had one numeral in them also.

  13. Greg Campbell, 27/02/2024

    Letter N inside circle beside bar.
    The lack of the mandatory dot in the lower right position indicates this is not a registered Queensland symbol brand. Supporting that, it looks unused.

    • Greg Campbell, 28/02/2024

      The Queensland Brands Directory gives guidance, with sketches, on how to formally describe a symbol brand, and does allow for a letter within a circle, and a vertical bar either before or after.
      They simply use “and” to indicate which comes first, as read on the animal. In this case it’s:
      Letter “N” inside circle and vertical bar.
      As well pointed out, the absence of the dot rules out a current Queensland registered symbol brand, but there may have been a period in Qld brands history prior to the dot becoming mandatory.

  14. Michael Vail, 27/02/2024

    My 2-cents worth … it looks like a symbol-brand, yet lacks the ‘dot’ that orients the brand.

    The handle position is a clue.

    Usually a ‘bar’ is on the bottom or top.

    Could it be a ‘Z’?

    It’d be handy to under where the brand was or is registered, and to whom … usually there is a written notation of the brand description, location of use, and purpose, in any State’s brands registry …

    Looks to me like ‘Circle Z Bar’ … (sounds like an in-joke).

    I’d start there …

  15. Helen Armstrong, 27/02/2024

    I read it as circle N bar. You need to read it in reverse as it would be applied to the animal.

  16. Steve Sorensen, 27/02/2024

    Encircle a bar?

  17. Graham johns, 27/02/2024

    No one?

  18. Derek Mayne, 27/02/2024

    Could it be 10N

  19. Ken Atkinson, 27/02/2024

    The orientation of the handle would narrow it down a bit insomuch as to whether the N is normal or horizontal (‘lazy’), I would say with confidence the Bar is not a number 1 unless the iron was made by someone who didn’t know the proper styling of numbers on brands. In my view, without knowing the orientation of the brand on a beast, there are four options – as pictured would be “Vertical Bar N inside Circle” or “N Inside Circle Vertical Bar” or “N Inside Circle Over Bar” or “N Inside Circle Under Bar”.

    None of those options show up on the Queensland Brands Database but am sure if the owner contacted their relevant Government Department they would be able to clarify.

    • L Wesring, 28/02/2024

      I’d agree Ken, it’s a bar as it’s not correctly styled for a number. I think the orientation is critical but without the old brand would be hard to know if it is to be read vertically or horizontal.

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