Love That New Cattleguard
- by Jennifer Showalter, Working RanchTV
Handling Equipment Powder River cattleguards are designed to meet the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) specifications. The strongest models are built to handle up to 30 tons per axle. Opening and closing a gate from time to time is no sweat off any rancher’s back. It’s when the same gate has to be gone through over and over that it becomes more trouble than it’s worth. With this in mind, every rancher has a cow or two that seems to be able to smell an open gate and won’t let anyone slide by without closing the gate each and every time. To ease the aggravation and time loss with these high usage areas, ranchers are relying more and more on cattleguards. Matt Johnson with Powder River Livestock Handling Equipment in Provo, UT points out, “Cattleguards are the ultimate gate replacement for high traffic areas, but placing a guard in an area that you access only occasionally or that is less critical for gate control is probably a waste of resources.” To help with the selection and installation of a cattleguard, Working Ranch went out and gathered some pointers from a few different manufacturers. This is what we found:
Picking the right one: When selecting a cattleguard there are a number of things to scratch the old noggin over. For starters, rancher must determine what is the heaviest and the widest pieces of equipment that will ever cross their cattleguard. They then have to look for the cattleguard that will meet those standards.
Quality materials and craftsmanship obviously influence the price of a cattleguard, but also determine its longevity as long as the proper load rating is not abused. “The higher the cattleguard (load) rating, the higher the cost. The U-rated guards that are designed for extremely heavy loads are the most expensive. Anytime the distance across a road exceeds 16’, shipping rates can rise dramatically. In terms of cost, it sometimes makes more sense to order two small cattleguards to bolt together in either direction than it does to order one large custom cattleguard,” says Robert Moore with Barn World, LLC in Parker, CO. Ranchers must decide if a flat or box type cattleguard works better in their environment and whether they prefer square or round rungs. Flat style cattleguards are placed over a dug out cement vault, whereas box style cattleguards basically have a built in vault and sit close to the top of the ground.
Placement: Cattleguard placement varies because of different soil conditions, climates, drainage, and intended uses. Barn World suggests ranchers have a local contractor, who is familiar with the area, set the more permanent types of cattleguards. Installation for these cattleguards typically involves digging a one foot deep trench that is one foot wider than the cattleguard. Six inch wide walls should then be poured around all four sides to prevent dirt from collapsing in. In the bottom of the trench, a 12” wide and 18” deep footer is needed under each beam of the cattleguard. It is critical that the cattleguard sits on footers that are sufficient to support the full load of traffic. Ranchers must keep in mind that the vault does not support a cattleguard in any way. While setting a cattleguard, installing large PVC pipe through the forms or digging out and adding gravel will help with drainage issues. Box cattleguards typically do not need a vault. Their box formation keeps dirt from working into the guard. “One of the biggest mistakes folks make is setting their (box style) cattleguard at ground level. You have to hold them slightly above grade and ramp up to and away from them to prevent them from filling in.
Cows don’t like to jump on a grade where their front-ends are higher than their back-ends,” explains Tom Jones, with JE Hill Precast in Leesburg, FL. When placing two cattleguards next to each other, both gaps and edges must be avoided. If there is a solid edge, cattle can master walking it. Some ranchers find it beneficial to purchase or build a set of wings for their cattleguard. “Various styles of wings can be used. They should be able to be secured to the guard grid or the base it is built on. Any type of wing should remove the risk that livestock can circumvent the guard,” notes Johnson. Jones points out another added benefit of wings, “Wings are a way of exaggerating the opening of a cattleguard. For example, if you have a 16’ cattleguard and a 16’ mower, you can lay the wings back and fit through.”
Limitations: Jones warns people that before they are sold on the idea of a cattleguard, they must be aware of their limitations. He finds that cattleguards typically do not work to separate cows from their calves or cycling cows from bulls. They also have a hard time holding cows without water from water and cows without feed from feed. Jones discourages ranchers from putting cattleguards in corners or along the edge of an alleyway where cattle can easily crowd them.
A peek at what these boys have to offer: Powder River: www.powderriver.com Powder River cattleguards are made out of structural steel, have square cross rails, and are either powder coated green or painted yellow. These cattleguards are designed to meet the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) specifications. Powder River builds a wide range of cattle guards with the strongest built to handle up to 30 tons per axle. Powder River cattleguards are available in 8’, 10’, 12’ and 14’ road lengths and 7’5’’ and 8’ widths. Powder River offers an optional three rail clean out section on all of their models except the U-80’s. Wings, steel posts, and pre-cast concrete bases are also available. Powder River stands behind its cattleguards with a five-year warranty.
Their rated cattleguards are intended for highways or for heavy off-road equipment. They are available with certified load ratings of H-15, H-20, U-54, and U-80. Barn World also offers an HS20 rated cattleguard to meet State and Federal requirements. Certified structural steel is used in the manufacture of all Barn World HS20 rated cattleguards. Barn World’s line of standard cattleguards are made with new .113 walled steel pipe, and like all Barn World cattleguards, come with a gray enamel finish. Their basic cattleguards are made of a heavy duty structural .188 walled pipe with diameters of 3.5” or 4.5”.
Barn World now offers a cattleguard design specifically for ATVs. These ATV cattleguards are made of 1.5 x 11 gauge square tubing and are 72” wide by 91” long. The overall width of these guards including their wings is 87”. A 14” ramp on each side allows them to be set on top of the ground and eliminates the need for a vault. Barn World is strictly an Internet-based business.
With three cattleguard manufacturing plants across the United States, Barn World strives to keep shipping costs at a minimum. JE Hill Precast: www.jehillprecast.com JE Hill Precast concrete cattleguards feature rounded top rails and built-in footers that eliminate the need to pour concrete. These cattle guards simply sit on top of the ground and are best positioned so they are held slightly above grade with a gravel ramp on both sides. They come in 12’, 14’, and 16’ road spans and all measure 6’6’’ across. JE Hill Precast’s standard cattleguards have a 72,000 pound gross vehicle weight (GVW) limit, while the heavy duty models have greater than a 90,000 pound GVW limit. These cattleguards weigh from 5,000 to 7,000 pounds depending on their size. JE Hill Precast cattleguards are designed so they require no additional construction, can be installed in two hours or less, and can easily be relocated.