Cattle Guard Questions Answered!

Each Spring we get a lot of questions about the use and effectiveness of cattle guards.  Whether it’s selecting the proper load-rating, to what animals they truly work with, a few quick, concise answers can provide decades of convenience and security.  Below is a quick outline of the various types, load ratings, benefits and dangers to be aware of when using these effective livestock barriers.

BENEFITS OF CATTLE GUARDS

CONVENIENCE

It’s probably obvious, but cattle guards don’t require any effort to operate!  Once installed, there really isn’t anything to do except drive across them.  On the other hand, the typical livestock gate requires quite the production to use. The routine is to drive up to the gate and stop, chase any animals away from the opening as possible, jump back in your vehicle and pull through to stop yet again. Now, quickly get out and close the gate behind you before any of your herd decides to escape.

This is a tedious process and all but impossible when there is a group of animals near the gate.  Add a bit of weather or cold temperatures and it really becomes a hassle.  Frequently crossing a fence-line with hay equipment, tractors with feed or deliveries almost necessitates a more convenient option than a manual gate.

SECURITY

If the logistics of operating a gate are tough for you to deal with, imagine how attentive others will be when crossing your fence-line.  If you have third parties that need access to your pasture, such as maintenance crews for cell phone towers, oil rigs etc, they may not be as careful as you are when using them.  In fact, they may even leave it open thinking they’ll be back before an animal notices it’s open or forget to close it altogether.  There’s nothing like having to find and chase down your cattle because someone forgot to close a gate!

A cattle guard will provide peace of mind knowing that it literally cannot be left open and your animals will always be safe, secure and right where you left them.  No sleepless nights wondering if a gate was left open and no more calls from the neighbors or police about wandering animals.

HOW A CATTLE GUARD WORKS

There are a few different cattle guard designs out there but they all rely on the ability to present unstable footing and depth perception as deterrents. The combination of the two create a very effective livestock barrier!

PHYSICAL BARRIER

– Walking on a rounded surface with a flat foot is a difficult task.  Try it with a large hoof and an extremely rounded pipe and you will have a tough time balancing. Add a 1,000 pounds and you have real trouble!

We’ve all stood on top of a small, rounded rock (imagine crossing a stream) and realized how difficult it is to balance on the small, rounded surface. This is still difficult even though our foot does have some flexibility in it to help grip the rock. That is the design and physical component that makes cattle grids so effective.
The round pipes that make up the top of the guard create an extremely difficult and physically uncomfortable footing for a large-hoofed animals. Unable to get any kind of secure footing, they simply cannot put any weight on their leg for a place to stand.  The rounded surface doesn’t allow them to gain any type of stable footing. This sensation is extremely uncomfortable, unpleasant and so physically demanding that they remember this strong deterrent in the future.  This will help keep them from challenging the barrier in the future and most will shy away when it’s presented again.  Although some will never test it or put a hoof on the first rail, those that do don’t usually put weight on the first step and retreat to ‘safer pastures’.

VISUAL DETERRENT

The vaulted area dug under the guard creates a confusing and frightful illusion for cattle. They see the deep area under the guard and get the sensation that they can fall.  This confuses and distorts their depth perception when approaching and usually creates the desire to turn around.

There are some studies out there where a roadway was painted to create an optical illusion of depth, like that seen with a traditional cattle guard and almost all of the cattle that encountered it wouldn’t go across.  It was just paint on flat pavement, but the illusion was enough to keep them from crossing.

TYPES OF CATTLE GUARDS

Most ‘Texas Gates‘ are constructed out of steel and finished in either a powder-coat or directly applied enamel paint. In the rare case, they may be galvanized however that hot-dipping process does add substantial costs.

CONCRETE GUARDS

cattle guard form for concrete

Concrete Cattle Guard Form

Concrete can also provide the same visual and physical deterrents to livestock that steel does. The nice thing about concrete is, you can order forms and make your own. Simply drop in the re-bar, pour the concrete into the form and removed to install in place when ready. The concrete cattle guards do come with an HS20, 16 ton/axle rating and you may pour as many as you like with a single form.

Load Ratings  – To install cattle guards in a public roadway, they must meet the HS-20 standards called out for by the Department of Transportation.  They require a carrying capacity of at least 16 tons per axle.  Below is a chart of the various load ratings and their capacities:

AASHTO Design Specifications

  • H-15 (12 tons per axle)
  • H-20 (16 tons per axle)
  • U-54 (25 tons per axle)
  • U-80 (30 tons per axle)

Most farms and ranches don’t need the DOT 16 ton per axle rate and will install the more economical private use cattle guards or go with the 12 ton per axle rating. They are much more economical and will still carry a fully loaded semi-truck but be sure to check with your local governing agencies before installing a cattle guard on your property. Some municipalities require specific ratings for government and emergency vehicles such as fire trucks that may need to access your property.

DANGERS OF CATTLE GUARDS

Although they work extremely well with cattle, they are not designed to prevent all animals were crossing. Small hoofed animals are quite agile and can balance easily on the rounded surface.  The smaller ‘foot-print’ allows them to balance quite easily so they don’t encounter the same unstable footing that presented by a large hoof.  Goats are a prime example, you won’t keep them in with a cattle grid.

Horses:  A special note is needed here as we do not recommend cattle guards be used with horses. Their slender hooves are able to slide down in between the rails which exposes their long, slender legs to high leverage and possible breakage. During the panic to remove themselves, they will struggle and could easily break their own leg in the effort. We highly recommend only traditional gates be used to contain horses.

Cattle guards provide an effective livestock barrier and a convenient method for vehicular traffic and equipment to cross fence lines while eliminating the risk of an open gate and a free herd of cattle. With proper installation, these gate-less entries can provide decades of containment for your largest groups of cattle.

If you have any questions or would like help selecting the proper guard for your operation, please contact Barn World Livestock Supplies today and they’ll be happy to help!

Cattle Guards have many names, but they’re still cattle guards

There are many names for what we call cattle guards.  A cattle guard is a grid of parallel metal bars (either square or round), usually set in the ground across a road instead of using a gate to keep cattle from wandering off of your land.

cattle guard with wings - installation
cattle guard with wings – installation

Cattle guards have been called by many names.  In Australia they are called either cattle grids or cattle grates.   In the United Kingdom a cattle guard is known as a cattle grid.   In Canada, they are called a texas gate or a vehicle pass. And we hear other names too – livestock guard, cattle grill and deer guard.  In New Zealand, a cattle guard is called a cattle stop.  As long as they keep your cattle from wandering away, any name will do.

Barn World , the farm and ranch store, has cattle guards in a wide variety of sizes and options to match your application.  Call today 720-238-2190.

Cattle Guards from Barn World – A cattle guard for every need

There are many names for what we call cattle guards.  A cattle guard is a grid of parallel metal bars (either square or round), usually set in the ground across a road instead of using a gate to keep cattle from wandering off of your land.

cattle guard with wings - installation
cattle guard with wings – installation

Cattle guards have been called by many names.  In Australia they are called either cattle grids or cattle grates.   In the United Kingdom a cattle guard is known as a cattle grid.   In Canada, they are called a texas gate or a vehicle pass. And we hear other names too – livestock guard, cattle grill and deer guard.  In New Zealand, a cattle guard is called a cattle stop.  As long as they keep your cattle from wandering away, any name will do.

Barn World , the farm and ranch store, has cattle guards in a wide variety of sizes and options to match your application.  Call today 720-238-2190.

Barn World Standard Cattle Guards are Schedule 40 Steel

Barn World carries a large selection of cattle guards for all of your livestock guards needs.

Rated Cattle Guards

Our HS20, HS25 rated cattle guards are designed for highway use and certifed to meet the demanding specifications needed for State and Federal requirements such as DOT, BLM, USFS, NP, and US Military installations. They will provide years of rugged service in commercial applications such as mining, forestry, agriculture, and petroleum production. They are also the product of choice for residential usage where city, county, or state regulations require the HS20 rating. Certified structural steel is used in the manufacture of all Barnworld HS20 rated Cattle Guards.

Standard Cattle Guards

Barn World also carries a less expensive option for private use such as washouts and driveways.  The Standard 6’and 8′ wide cattle guards are made of NEW 3″ Schedule 40 steel. All Flat Cattle Guards may be ordered with optional wings, integral box, or removable box. The ATV guards are unique in the industry. These cattle guards are suitable for all types of projects on private land. The standard boxed cattle guards are perfectly suited to construction sites, mine sites and oil field applications.

Spec Cattle Guards

Our 7.5′ and 8′ spec cattle guards meet current AASHTO load ratings and are suitable for all types of applications where a square pipe is desired including heavy duty logging roads. They may be ordered with optional wings or cleanout line.

All cattle guards may be fitted with plow strips that allow plows to cross over the guard with minimal interference and wear.

All cattle guards may be outfitted with a removable box for easier cleaning as an option.

Cattle Guard with a removable box

Barn World has a cattle guard to meet your needs. Please call us (720) 238-2190 with your questions and to obtain shipping quotes. We can also provide professional bid packages for large company, military, and government programs.