How to keep the farmyard safe
Many farms have expensive machinery and livestock that can become a target for thieves.
The trouble is that farms often cover large areas of land and are impossible to keep completely secure but farmers can take measure to protect property and stock.
A thorough security check should be top of the priority list and there are many ways to make your land and farmyard more secure.
The recent growth in security technology now gives farmers access to security measures that were once either impossible or unaffordable. However, sophisticated the technology it cannot replace old-fashioned vigilance and common sense.
The government has good security advice for farmers on its website here. We have a few more tips on how farmers can protect their farms from thieves and intruders
Upgrade locks and chains
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve farm security is to upgrade padlocks and chains. Padlocks are easy to buy and come in all shapes, sizes and grades.
But avoid using cheap locks ad they can be a false economy while quality padlocks will have a European CEN standard to indicate how hard they are to break.
It's best to buy a well-known brand, to check on water resistance. It is useful to check on the padlock design as some products come with a hardened metal shroud to withstand bolt cutters.
Some products also boast ceramic inserts to combat attacks with a cordless grinder. These enhancements won't stop a determined attack but it does mean thieves will have to come armed with some heavy duty equipment if they are to break the lock.
High-tech padlocks can be more expensive but will incorporate such things as GPS devices and a SIM card that can send a text or email is someone tampers with them.
Upgrade farm gate chains and shackles
The thin chains traditionally used to secure field gates on farms are a major security headache for farmers.
Chains should be upgraded to a minimum 10mm thickness, although a 16mm chain is best for stopping all but the most determined thief.
Padlocks for field gate chains should be enclosed (see above) and serviced if they are to last and the bigger the shackle diameter the better.
Improve security on the driveway
Although a CCTV camera system can be useful for farmers a cheaper solution can be a driveway alarm.
These are relatively simple PIR (passive infra-red) devices that throw a beam across the driveway and trigger an alarm it the beam is broken.
They can be useful to use across important field gates but they are limited in range. Most are battery driven and have a limited timespan although batteries can last for up to 18 months and more solar powered devices and battery/solar combinations are coming on the market.
Solar power is not much use in the shade but some can be powered by solar boosters placed in a sunny spot. Receivers can even be connected to an auto dialer so farmers get an alert voice call or text message.
Other driveway alarm system can be buried a few inches underground and detect vehicles instead of cows but they can cost rather more.
Install secure gates and automatic barriers
With a steady rise in rural crime and fly-tipping farmers find it increasingly necessary to install security gates around the farmyard.
But farm gate security can also be a nuisance when farmers need constant and easy access in and out of the property.
Gates can be opened or closed with key fobs, powered by battery and solar combinations so there is no need for a mains supply and some even come equipped with SIM cards and GSM technology so farm workers can open gates with mobile phones.
Trackless sliding gates that offer better protection against ram-raiders and heavy-duty gates with metal road surface flaps can make it impossible to get through in a vehicle without authorisation but these can come with a hefty price tag.
Set up a CCTV network
CCTV systems are now fairly commonplace on farms. Security cameras can not only be used on farm entrances but also in buildings that house valuable machinery or even livestock sheds where they can monitor the animals as well as any intruders.
Farmyard CCTV systems are best installed by a specialist such as Crown Securities UK as many factors need to be taken into account to ensure a secure system.
Farmers can buy DIY kits for farm CCTV but need to take into account sightlines, light levels, monitors and other factors crucial to an effective security setup.
CCTV cameras are usually linked by wireless access points to your existing Wi-Fi router, allowing farmers to view captured footage on a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Recorders can be triggered by PR sensors and footage used to monitor livestock and barns where machinery is stored.
Latest CCTV used by wildlife enthusiasts can be useful for farmers who want a mobile option (useful for monitoring potential fly tipping spots).
A camera can operate for up to 12 months on a single set of batteries and take photographs or capture video is PIR beams are broken. More expensive versions have SIM cards to send alerts and even beam HD images wirelessly.
Some farm security systems also offer all-in-one solutions with security cameras, video capture, LED floodlighting and audible warnings built into the same equipment.
Farmers should be aware though that using security cameras as part of a business concern technically come under the 1998 Data Protection Act.
That means that farmers can't hide CCTV cameras and need a sign that says CCTV is being used for the purposes of crime prevention.
Farmers also need to make sure that cameras aren't pointing at other properties or passers-by.
CCTV footage can be used in a court to secure a part of a prosecution but it should have a clear audit trail to demonstrate where the footage was captured, and farmers should formally notify the Information Commissioner's Office that they may be collecting personal data on CTTV.
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