Cattle Guard Options – planning livestock control

Cattle guards allow for ease of access to your pastures and livestock or keep your valuable animals at home without the use of cumbersome gates.  It’s not necessary to stop, get out of your vehicle or climb down from your farm equipment to open a gate, or drive through, all the while watching for animals trying to escape along the way, only to then get out again to close the livestock gate behind you.   Better make sure it’s secure behind you to prevent a jailbreak when you’re not around!  The guards offer peace of mind knowing that a gate wasn’t left open and that you won’t have to spend your day chasing your cattle or other animals around the county!.

That’s why Barn World offers not only a large selection of livestock supplies but also a wide variety of cattle guards and options.

Cattle Guard Options

Flat Pipe vs. Round Pipe – two different finishes for different uses.

The flat rails offer vehicles a smoother ride when crossing the control area and are a valuable option to consider when higher speeds are present. Even though the flat-topped guard isn’t quite as daunting to livestock as the round pipe, it still provides a very effective deterrent. These are typically used on highways and in high traffic areas where speeds and vehicle comfort are a priority.

flat top rail cattle guard
Round pipe offers the most effective means of dissuading animal crossings. A large part of the deterrent is a mental and visual cue that the animal perceives.  The round rails create s a deeper shadow and the perception of a larger obstacle than the flat. It also offers a more challenging physical barrier. A flat hoofed animal with have a very difficult time finding footing on a rounded surface and won’t be able to balance its hoof on the pipe. We have seen cattle ‘test’ a guard by placing a single hoof on the pipe only to realize that it can’t place any weight on the hoof to cross.

If the visual appearance doesn’t immediately persuade it to stay away, the inability to balance a single hoof on the cattle guard will. The round style is very popular on farms, ranches, private drives, and public roadways.

cattle guard with round top rails

Cattle Guard Boxes

Boxed cattle guards allow for installation directly on the ground. Dirt is typically piled up on each side to provide a ramp for vehicles to cross the 12” tall barrier. The box itself is simply a steel skirt that prevents dirt from creeping in underneath and filling in the space under the guard. You may choose from the integral box, which is welded directly to the perimeter seen here,

Boxed Cattle Guard

or a removable box that allows for cleaning the vault area below without disturbing the area around it by simply lifting the guard:

cattle guard removable box

These boxed guards are extremely popular and useful for construction sites as washouts, and dirt shakers and allow for installation without digging a vault and pouring footings. To clean debris out from underneath, it can simply be drug from its resting place and then returned. It is important to install on level ground to prevent movement over time.

Cattle Guard Wings

Wings are used to connect the guard to a fence line to prevent livestock from crossing around the fence post. They are triangles that are attached to the ends of the barrier, lean away from the roadway, and provide a vertical post to run the fencing to. Without them, crossing around the last fence post can be possible and some animals may just skirt the guard.

Cattle Guard Animal Safety

It’s important to remember that these barriers are not effective for all types of animals and of particular note, we don’t recommend them for horses. Horses’ hooves and legs are such that they can slide their leg down between the pipes. They then panic to get out and can break their slender leg. We suggest a typical farm gate be used at all times to contain horses.

Other animals that may not be discouraged and can simply walk across the tops or rounded pipe are goats, dogs & cats, sheep, and hogs. They are more sure-footed and can trot right across a cattle guard.

For information or help with your cattle guard project, whether it’s for private use, construction, public roadways, or heavy-duty off-road use, please contact Barn World and we will be happy to help plan your project with you.

As always, please go to or call 720.238.2190 for all of your livestock supply needs!