Theft of livestock and equipment are unfortunate realities that farm owners need to address when considering farm safety and security. Whether you own prize show horses, cattle, or other pets and animals, there are many proactive steps you can take to safeguard your property and assets.

Denial of Entry

A lock and chain on a gate.This involves constructing barriers on your farm to make it more difficult for someone to enter the property. Points of access leading to areas where animals or expensive equipment are kept are fortified with strong gates, heavy chains, and a variety of locks. Equipment should not be stored behind weak fences or by the roadside. If possible, lock your equipment inside a secure building. When securing horses and other livestock, be sure your fences are strong and there are several barriers. The goal of denial-of-entry measures is to prevent theft by making your property too difficult to break into in the first place.

Defense of Property

A surveillance camera.Defensive methods make use of security systems such as cameras and lighting. Today’s home surveillance technology is getting more and more affordable, so you can monitor access points and other sensitive locations wirelessly without breaking your budget. Many systems even have analytics built in, which can automatically detect intruders and alert you via a push notification to your mobile device. You can also install security systems on your buildings or install field motion sensors.

Don’t forget the lighting! Bathing an area with bright light is another strong yet inexpensive deterrent. The lights should be hooked up via photoelectric cell so they turn on at night and off in the morning. Avoid motion sensor lights, though. You really want the light on full brightness at night to encompass a larger area than a motion sensor is able to cover.

For equipment, trucks, and tractors, secure them inside if possible and remove the key. Chaining equipment together or blocking smaller items with bigger pieces of equipment can prevent theft, too. You can also install hidden “kill” switches where the ignition is disconnected and the item can’t be started. If you have few denial-of-entry options, then consider removing a distributor cap, rotor or battery. Another simple technique is to chain and lock the rear wheels together. For trailers, you can install a wheel / axle lock.

For really valuable equipment, think about placing a hidden GPS unit with its own backup power supply. You can use it to track stolen items, and if an item is moved from a geo-fenced area, the device can alert you.

Remember to keep pasture gates closed and locked when not in use or not under observation. Never leave halters on fences or near gates, as this can aid theft. This includes leaving lead ropes and other items within easy access. When possible, feed your horse away from gates or near roads. This prevents them from being in areas that are easy to access.

Depending on your area or level of risk, consider starting a farm, ranch or horse watch program in your community. Report all suspicious activity immediately.

Documentation of Valuables

A rider who loves her horse.Every valuable item should be photographed from all angles with details of any unique markings. The full make, model and serial number of vehicles should also be recorded. This all can help keep track of your items or if insured, help show proof of loss and value. Paint your equipment with the name of your farm or business and use unique and highly identifiable colors. Most manufactures use the same colors for every model, so you’ll want yours to be visible and identifiable. You can even engrave your farm or business name into obvious locations on the equipment. Let’s not forget about the livestock and horses. Permanent identification of animals is important. This can be accomplished with cattle, pigs, goats, and other livestock through ear notching, branding or tattooing. Horses can be microchipped to aid in recovery. Just like equipment, take detailed photos of your animals. Any special colors, hair shapes or other unique parts should be recorded. Be sure to perform regular checks on your animals to ensure none of them have been tampered with. Lastly, be sure to mark your property with signage. Let it be known you have surveillance in place, you are part of a Farm or Horse Watch program, and you will prosecute theft and trespassing.
Need help with farm security or more ideas? Our Showcase team can point you towards useful local resources to keep you and your property secure. You can also reach out to your local Farm Bureau, or request your local law enforcement agency send an agricultural deputy who can counsel you farm security measures.