Cowboy Riding Herd

Helpful Laws & Their Definitions Regarding Animals – Livestock & Cattle

Bureau of Livestock Identification

Food & Agricultural Code:

Laws Regarding Animals: General

  • 16421: Violations are a misdemeanor.
  • 16521: Shall seize any bovine, horse, mule, burro or hide or carcass of when holder cannot prove ownership (Review specifics).
  • 16522: Evidence of ownership of an animal or hide may include any of the following:
    1. A recorded brand registered in the name of the person in possession of the animal or hide.
    2. A brand inspection certificate.
    3. A bill of sale from the owner of the brand on the animal or hide.
    4. In the case of an unbranded animal or hide, a bill of sale which gives description of the breed, sex, color or any natural markings, if any.
    5. A dairy exemption number.
  • 16525: It is unlawful for any person to remove any animal, hide, or carcass which is seized by an inspector or peace officer, from the premises where the inspector or peace officer confined it at the time of seizure except upon release by the Inspector or Peace Officer who made the seizure.
  • 16902: Allow willfully, or negligently, livestock to stray onto public roadway when there are fences.
  • 16903: Drive livestock on roadway without sufficient herders.
  • 17041: Taker–Up make take-up on his property or on public roadway near his property.
  • 17042: Taker-Up must notify Bureau or Peace Officer immediately.
  • 17061: Taker-Up must release to inspector.


  • 17001: Definition: Taker–up means any person who takes up an estray animal.
  • 17001.5: Definition: Estray is any animal whose owner is unknown or cannot be located.

Food & Agricultural Code Laws: Cattle

  • 20434: Peace Officers SHALL document loss or theft of cattle and transmit to the Bureau of Livestock Identification.
  • 20435: If a Peace Officer finds an animal, hide, carcass, with the hide on, and person in possession cannot prove ownership, SHALL take possession for investigation.
  • 20436: Person SHALL NOT, without a release from the Brand Inspector or Peace Officer, dispose of animal, hide,carcass, etc. -- within 30 days.
  • 20438: Peace Officer may stop any conveyance which is transporting animal, hide, carcass, etc. -- for the purpose of making.
  • 20439: Expense of caring for animals SHALL be paid by the owner.
  • 21701: In this Section, Animal is defined as:
    1. Bovine animal.
    2. Carcass of a bovine with the hide on.
    3. The hide of a bovine.
  • 21702: Shall not possess, sell, or give an animal, etc. -- without a written document.
  • 21703: Movement of cattle with incomplete or inaccurate documents.
  • 21705: Transport of cows without documents.
  • 21852: Driving cows off range without owners consent is 487 (d) PC.
  • 21855: Driving, killing, butchering without owners consent (four times the value of the cattle plus) Refer to F&A Code for details.
  • 21881: Cows killed by railroads, 96 hours to notify Sheriff or Brand Inspector.
  • 21886: Attempt to conceal killing of cow.
  • 17551: Unlawful with intent to steal, to: mark or brand, alter any mark or brand.
  • 17553: Unlawful to cut off more than half the ear.
  • 21856: Any device used to willfully take, possess, kill or slaughter may be up for asset seizure.
  • 20202: Any person SHALL exhibit records to peace officer.
  • 20203: Failure to exhibit records.
  • 16908: Unlawful to confine cows in vehicle for 28 to 36 hours without humanely off-loading by chute or tailgate for five hours of feed, water, and rest.

Penal Code

  • 487(d): Grand theft cow.
  • 485: Appropriation of lost property is theft.
  • 503: Embezzlement of property entrusted includes cows.
  • 487(a): Theft of a carcass.
  • 597(t): Confined animals.