10 Tips for Taking an Annual Farm and Barn Inventory

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Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

While we think we know what we own and what is in our barn and tack room, do we really? If a fire destroyed your buildings, could you list for your insurance everything that you lost? If someone broke into your tack room and took everything, would you be able to provide your insurance company a detailed accounting of the losses? 

Unfortunately there are many instances of fires, accidents, storms or robbery that happen every day. The initial shock and destruction to your livelihood are just the immediate pains; then comes the time of trying to get back to normal.

Just as you should have a home inventory, you should have a barn and farm inventory.

While every barn and farm is different, here are 10 tips that might help you complete this task in a shorter time and do a better job of inventorying your property.

1. Take videos. You should take your smart phone or a video camera and simply do a 360-degree turn around every area of your barn, inside and out. Make sure you cover the entire area, from floor to ceiling. You can zoom in on each piece of equipment, or take a separate video or photo of it.

2. Take photos. Having a photo of each piece of equipment can help you determine replacement cost and justify it with your insurance company. You also can do the same 360-degree coverage with multiple photos as you did with the video camera, but sometimes verifying the condition of a piece of equipment or tack is more difficult on a photo that covers half of a room.

3. Create an Excel file. Make a list of every piece of equipment, tack or clothing (horse and human) that is stored in each building. Marking its location also can help in filing a claim. After a fire or robbery, for instance, can you remember if there were three or four pairs of riding boots in the tack room? Group your inventory so you have all your saddles listed together, all your bridles listed together, all the boots and wraps listed together, etc. This will make it easier to update your file throughout the year or annually. Don’t forget to list things inside tack trunks, medical cabinets and desk drawers and hung on the walls.

4. Inventory your trailer. Make sure that on the day you do your inventory you include everything that you store in your horse trailer. Sometimes owners are surprised at how much tack and equipment is actually kept in the trailer, especially in the summer.

5. Inventory outside your barns. If a tornado or fire destroyed your property, could you list all the jump standards, poles, barrels, hoses, etc. that are located in and around your property to give to your insurance company? Do you have recent images of your barns, run-in sheds and arenas?

6. Inventory your equipment. Don’t forget your mowers, ATVs, weed eaters, and any other equipment that might be stored outside, in another building or in a separate shed.

7. Inventory perishables. Even though your feed, hay and bedding change on a daily basis, having a “snapshot” of what you have on hand on the day you do inventory can help you determine your losses.

8. Store files in a safe place. Make sure you make copies of these images and inventory files and keep them in a safe deposit box or a fire-proof box not located in the barn or stable. It also might help to give a copy of your files to a close friend to store off-location.

9. Update your images and files every year. Set a time that you have “inventory day” and update all your videos, photos and inventory list. We all know equipment wears out, gets lost or new equipment is purchased. Updating your list and images is necessary to get the most value from your replacement cost. If you say a saddle was five years old and in excellent condition, and the insurance company questions that, a photo or video can be very convincing.

10. Require boarders to have an annual inventory. If you operate a boarding facility, or even just let “friends” keep their horses or equipment on your property, you should require them to have an inventory list that is updated annually. Require them to have insurance that covers their equipment in case of theft, damage or destruction. Check with your insurance company before there is a problem or crises and determine if your insurance covers the property owned by others. Include in your boarding contract a clause that indicates that all property owned by them is not insured by you and you are not responsible for loss or damage.

Creating an inventory of your farm and barn might seem like a daunting task, but it is an important part of your business. You should be as detailed as possible on your list, writing in brands, sizes and anything that is unique about the piece of equipment (it is XXL, it has silver conchos, it was hand-tooled, etc.). Trying to use only your memory when you are stressed from a crises to try and create a list of lost items is very difficult. Having an inventory list will help you not only get through a painful process more quickly in bad times, but can help you evaluate your possessions in good times.