Completing a ranch inventory is the first step in the strategic planning process, but it also helps provide a current overview of the operation, explained Sean Kelly, SDSU Extension Range Management Field Specialist.

"During times of belt-tightening, it's imperative to make sure all the resources of the ranch are being utilized as efficiently as possible," Kelly said.

Kelly suggested that a ranches' inventory be divided into four categories of resources available to the ranch operation:

  1. Natural Resources;
  2. Financial Resources;
  3. Human Resources; and
  4. Physical Resources.

"A thorough ranch inventory should allow someone not familiar with the operation to have a good working knowledge of all the resources available to effectively manage the ranch," Kelly said. "Gather all documents, maps and records that provide a clearer picture of the operation."

Kelly encourages ranch managers to complete a balance sheet and provide a summary of collateral for loans or operating notes. "This will assist with future decisions as finances are used for diversification or to help determine if the operation can accommodate a son or daughter returning to the ranch," Kelly said.

Make time this winter

Slower winter months ahead on the ranch, are an excellent time to work on a ranch inventory.

"The first attempt will be the most challenging and time consuming. However, once a record keeping system is in place, conducting a yearly ranch inventory will be more thorough and useful" Kelly explained.

He added that having a list of all available resources to ranch will allow a ranch manager complete a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).