As we’ve stated in previous posts, cattle guards are not designed as a deterrent for all animals or even all livestock. The rounded surface of the top rails prevents the flat hoof of large animals from being able to balance while standing on it. The instability prevents them from putting weight on their hooves and the uncomfortable balancing act prevents them from crossing.
Some smaller flat-hoofed animals such as goats and even some sheep can get their smaller hooves to balance on the top ridge and can ‘tiptoe’ across just the tops of the rails. The same holds for soft pads on crossing feet. Dogs can learn to conquer the barrier and cats have no problems at all.
Can Horses Cross Cattle Guards?
A lot of people use cattle guards to deter horses but we don’t recommend it. A horse typically won’t both with unstable footing and will usually shy away from the unusual and unstable footing.
HOWEVER, if the proper incentive or more commonly they get scared or confused, they could accidentally stumble onto the barrier. Their smaller hoofs can sometimes slide down between the top rails until they hit the bottom of the vault. This exposes their legs to the steel rails and in a struggle to get out, they could break their leg. Exposing a horse to this possible catastrophe is not recommended.
While they can be an effective barrier for many animals, they are designed for cattle and work best with livestock. Other animals can be too sure-footed, clever, or use their soft pads without too much trouble.
Humans are not as well adapted to crossing as you might think. It can become second nature to cross round top rails but sometimes it takes a bit of practice.
Goats, sheep, and other smaller hoofed or even sure-footed animals are also able to make their way across. A metal swing gate is the best way to keep horses, small hooves, and soft-padded creatures from crossing.
Cattle Guard Designs
The traditional construction uses round top rails for the most effective deterrent however, this also creates the roughest ride for crossing vehicles. The most prominent design for high-speed highway traffic is the flat top rail.
This configuration uses an almost square railing welded to the beams below to create a smoother crossing for vehicles. The gap between the rails is slightly larger than the round and it is still a very effective barrier.
They’re available in higher load carrying ratings than what’s required for public roadways (16 tons per axle) as shown below:
Cattle Guard Load Ratings
H-15 (12 tons per axle)
H-20 (16 tons per axle)
U-54 (25 tons per axle)
U-80 (30 tons per axle)
They’re also available to ship with pre-cast concrete footing and wings. These deliveries are very heavy and require that the receiver provide a mechanical means of unloading as the delivery drivers don’t have a way of removing them for a trailer.
It is extremely convenient to have the foundations arrive with the cattle guards. You won’t have to pour your own footings on site! The concrete has j-bolts already embedded to fit the grid when set on top so if your site is already prepared, they can be set in place, bolted down, and back-filled all in one day!
Please be sure to consult a local contractor who is familiar with the site conditions like freezing levels, drainage, building codes, etc. for a long-lasting installation.
If we can help answer any questions or provide any guidance for your particular project, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’ll be happy to answer any questions and prepare a quote with shipping right to your site.
Don’t forget Barn World has a large selection of products for all your livestock supplies including everything from hay feeders to grain bins.
Contact us any time at (720) 23-2190 or Sales@BarnWorld.com!