How to select a cattle guard crossing

There are many factors to consider when choosing a cattle guard for your crossing. Some of the most important are: the type of traffic using it, the speed of traffic and of course the type of animal they’re being installed for.

Please note that cattle guards don’t work with all animals. Animals with small, sure-footed hooves like goats can make it across as can soft-padded feet like cats and dogs. We also don’t recommend they be used with horses as their smaller and slender legs have the potential of sliding between the bars.

Below are a few guidelines for help with selecting the right type of cattle guard for your project.

Cattle Guard Top Rail Types

These livestock barriers are typically made of steel with round or flat top rails. There are also concrete designs for lower traffic areas as well.  Each has it’s own advantages and we’ve listed a few here.

Cattle Guards – Flat Top Rails

cattle guard resting on a concrete foundation
Flat top rails are ideal for roadways with high speed traffic. While round top rails tend to be the most effective at stopping the flow of hoofed traffic, they can also be jarring for vehicles, especially at high speeds.

Flat top rails make for a more comfortable ride and still offer an effective barrier for containing cattle.  In addition, the flat top rail design is easier for humans to walk over if necessary. Our flat rail cattle guards meet AASHTO standards and are rated for loads ranging from 12-30 tons per axle, depending on the product and needed load-carrying capacity.

Cattle Guards – Round Top Rails

Heavy Duty Cattle GuardOne of the most effective methods of keeping cattle in a designated area such as a pasture, or out of and area such as around a home is the round top rail. They can be used to keep deer out when mounted side-by-side and the rounded surface prevents livestock from balancing a hoof

We’re pleased to offer options suitable for both private and public roadway use in round rails. The private use design is the most economical and we estimate its capacity at 12 tons per axle to accommodate fully loaded semis. Public roadways and highways naturally require more robust materials, and our products for this purpose meet applicable standards with schedule 40 steel rated for loads up to 16 tons per axle.

Concrete Cattle Guard Forms

concrete cattle guard form
As you may know, cattle guards are an effective deterrent for hoofed animals like cows and deer, but they can be downright dangerous for horses.  What if you have both on your property?  Concrete cattle guard forms are the perfect solution.  They’ll keep cattle
contained, just like steel, but the narrowing gap ensures that horse hooves won’t slide down and get caught between rails, creating a risk for broken legs as the animal struggles.

Concrete cattle guard forms also offer the opportunity to create as many cattle guards as you might need, and because they’re rendered in concrete, they act as their own foundation.

The forms are easy to ship and we offer a design that is re-usable. You may pour as many concrete crossings as you like and set them end-to-end directly on the ground.  They are their own foundations!

Cattle Guard Foundations and Wings

While you could set steel cattle guards in a depression or directly on a roadway, there are several disadvantages to doing so.  The guards could walk, or shift position, from traffic driving over or uneven roadway surfaces.  They may also settle into a trench, or settle unevenly, creating hazardous driving conditions.  With proper foundations in place, you can avoid these potentially dangerous installations and prevent settling and moving.

Wings are another smart addition as they help you effectively tie in adjacent fencing.  Wings prevent livestock from walking around the fence post where it meets the cattle guard. The steel structure transfers the physical barrier of the fence line to the entire edge of the cattle guard, making the ‘walk around’ impossible.

ATV Cattle Guards

ATV Cattle Guard

There may be areas of your property where you want to get through fencing without the need for a gate, but you don’t necessarily need a cattle guard large and robust enough to accommodate full-sized vehicles.

Small, portable, and affordable ATV cattle guards are the ideal solution.  These diminutive structures require no foundations or digging.  Simply cut a hole in your fence line, place the guard on the ground, and tie it into your fencing for quick and easy installation.  The raised center design provides an effective deterrent to cattle while allowing your machines to easily cross.

They’ll accommodate Gators, Kubotas, and other ATV’s up to six feet wide. Larger sizes available upon request and feature a re-design for the longer wheel bases on 4-place machines.

Be sure to take the above into consideration when selecting the type of cattle guard for your project and let us know if we can help with your decision.

Barn World  |  Sales@BarnWorld.com  |  (720) 238-2190

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Cattle Guards instead of Gates

The cattle guard has been the staple of livestock control on the farm and ranch for decades. Farm gates are the workhorse of animal containment, but the inconvenience for the user created the desire for something better; something that didn’t require extra effort to pass through was needed. A system that allowed for effortless and frequent access through fence lines was needed.

Secure containment without the need to close a gate is paramount in remote and high traffic areas. Some people may have been granted access to your land who are not related to the ranch itself. These personnel are typically not as responsible at latching gates behind them every time they access the area as you are.

red farm gate with locking chain

The trouble with using farm gates

The traditional metal swing-gate did a fine job of keeping livestock contained in pastures, but required some discipline from those using them. The inconvenience of stopping equipment, climbing down to open a gate while fending off any curious livestock was more than just a pain in the neck to users.

Users would also need to actually drive through the gate while keeping animals at bay, only to stop again to ward them off and close the gate behind them. They also needed to make sure it was securely latched before leaving.

When making several trips a day through a fence-line, or relying on strangers that access the property to close them, was inconvenient. Livestock containment is not guaranteed. The installation and use of a cattle guard provides ease of use, peace of mind and is a huge time saver!

Gates are inconvenient are are only as secure as those using them – Cattle guards are fool proof

Gates require that everyone who uses them be responsible enough to make sure they are secured after being closed. A lot of pastures are in remote areas and need to accessed by non-ranchers. Land access may be granted to companies that operate cell phone towers, oil wells or other facilities. These areas require less than frequent maintenance by non-farm related personnel. The sporadic traffic by those not familiar with livestock, or maybe just more concerned with convenience than keeping animals contained, don’t always do the best job of keeping gates closed. Leaving them open after they enter a pasture because ‘there’s no cattle around’, only leads to animals sneaking out. With a cattle guard, there’s no more searching and rounding up escaped animals because someone left a gate open!

No more searching and rounding up escaped animals because someone left a gate open when using Cattle Guards!

Cattle Guards

The cattle guard design was born out of convenience and animal security. Once it was discovered that flat-hoofed livestock needed flat surfaces for secure footing, a design was born. The convenience of not opening and closing of gates was here to stay!


cattle guard with round top rails  truck crossing a cattle guard

 

Cattle Guards – Effective Livestock Barriers

To effectively keep cattle in the pasture where they belong without the use of a gate, a strong deterrent needs to be present. The standard cattle guard relies on two.

The optical deterrent

The first line of defense is the creation of a visible barrier. Cattle guards with round top-rails create shadows and a perception of depth that cows pick up on as treacherous. In fact, there are studies that show when presented with highly contrasting lines painted horizontally across a roadway, some cattle will be spooked enough not to cross. The optical barrier created by the shadows of the rounded rails, when coupled with the actual physical depth of the vaulted area beneath it, creates a strong disincentive for further exploration and will usually turn a cow before they even consider stepping on it.

The physical deterrent

When coupled with the visual perception of danger, the physical barrier of a Texas Gate usually creates an overwhelming urge to retreat. The most common guards are made with round top-pipe. This is so that when a large, flat-hoofed animals steps on it, it creates such an unstable balancing condition for the animal. They instinctively realize it is unsafe footing and realize it is an insurmountable obstruction. They will turn away before putting any real weight on their first ‘test hoof’ and be strongly persuaded to never go near it again.

Dangers and Shortcomings of Cattle Guards

We don’t recommend cattle guards be used with all animals. Some can walk right across (goats), some can leap over (deer) and they can present an outright danger to horses if one ever gets caught up in one.

Horses

With the convenience of using these round pipe crossings as effective barriers, there are also dangers present for other animals. The gaps between the top-pipes are excellent at creating unstable footing. They also add an optical impediment to crossing livestock and can create a hazard for other animals. The most at risk are horses and we strongly recommend that they not be used with equine. A horse has smaller hooves and thinner legs than bovine. Their slender legs can slide down between the rails to the bottom of the vaulted area. This puts the most fragile part of the leg at risk of breaking and as a flight animal.  When a horse begins to struggle to try and free itself, it can break it’s own leg trying to get out. There’s nothing worse than seeing a horse stuck in a cattle guard. We do not recommend cattle guard use with equine animals – best to use a gate.

Paws and Small Hoofs

cattle guard is as effective with non-hoofed animals such as dogs and cats. Other smaller, sure-footed hoofed creatures like goats and sheep and also cross. The soft pad of a paw allows the animals to walk across the rounded surface of the top pipe. Some smaller hoofed animals can also achieve balance on top of the rails for an easy traverse. Goats are great at balancing on almost anything including cattle guards.

Deer

One exception we have seen is with deer. Even though they have smaller hooves, they don’t like the unstable footing and will usually look for other paths or routes to roam. However, due to their incredible jumping abilities, we recommend a 12′ or deeper guard to provide a sufficient deterrent for large leaps. They are able to easily jump a 6′ or 8′ distance, but usually won’t attempt a 12′ or longer jump.

Texas Gate Summery

Whether using in a large farm and ranch operation with frequent traffic or a remote area with sporadic traffic, a cattle guard can be an excellent option to keeping your livestock contained. They’ll effortlessly keep them where you want them: grazing and growing.  Keep in mind they don’t work for all animals, but they’re a terrific option for cattle and provide the ultimate convenience for vehicles.

Visit Barn World for their large selection and ask their knowledgeable staff if a guard is right for your operation. They’re also happy to put together a quote with shipping right to your job site!

Barn World | Sales@BarnWorld.com | (720) 238-2190

 

cattle guards and concrete foundations  cattle guard being removed from a box

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Cattle Guards make livestock containment a breeze

Cattle Guards allow easy access to farm and ranch pastures by eliminating the need for gates. They give free and open access through fence-lines but keep livestock contained. All of our cattle guards are constructed with heavy wall steel pipe and extra thick steel channel beams. The ends are capped to prevent rust and wings and boxes are available with all sizes.

Different Types of Cattle Guards

Below are a few different designs for standard and specialized uses. Traditional installations mount directly to concrete foundations while the boxed feature allows it to be used without a foundation.

Boxed style cattle guards


boxed cattle guard

The round top rail cattle guards is available with a box welded around the perimeter. Boxed styles are designed to lay directly on flat ground on a crushed gravel bed for proper drainage. To help prevent movement and settling, they can be bolted down to buried railroad ties.

In many cases, they’re at construction sites to clean equipment, as wash rack to hose down vehicles or rumble strips to rattle dirt off passing trucks. The lack of foundation makes them valuable in remote locations such as cell phone towers and other low traffic areas such as driveways or distant grazing land.

In all cases a local contractor familiar with soil conditions and drainage considerations should be consulted when planning an installation.

Flat Rail Cattle Guards

heavy duty cattle guard with flat top rails

The flat style is designed to be mounted on cement footings and is the most popular for use in high traffic areas and public roadways. They are bolted directly to the concrete footings and have a ‘vaulted’  area, or empty space underneath. This provide a visual deterrent to animals and is very effective in dissuading them from making an attempt to cross over.

For these permanent installations, an optional hinged section made up of three top rails can be swung open to allow for cleaning out the area beneath. It makes it a lot easy to remove debris that may have collected in the vault. This feature is not available on all guards, but may be included with the flat top rail design.

General Cattle Guard Notes

Below are some general notes, considerations and guidelines that can help you make the proper selection for your project.

Load Ratings

All of our cattle guards are built to carry the weight of fully loaded tractor-trailers. The most economical is the private-use category, popular for driveways and general farm use. We estimate the load carrying capacity to be around 12 tons per axle and they’re designed for use on private driveways and with general farm equipment access.

The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) provides guidelines for cattle guards and establishes maximum load ratings. The ratings are designed to match all types of applications and uses. (See the table at the bottom of this article for more details on the load ratings.)

AASHTO Load 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)

Rated cattle guards will meet the specifications needed for state and federal requirements such as DOT, BLM, USFS, NP, and US Military installations. They are also used in commercial applications such as mining, forestry, agriculture, and petroleum production. Rated cattle guards are 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 HS20 rated cattle guards.

HS20 cattle guards will be certified by an independent engineering firm to meet commercial standards and are intended for government bids. For use on private land, buying standard cattle guards will save you thousands of dollars, are identical in size and are made out of the same materials. They just do not come with the certifications and paperwork all the way back to the steel mill that government agencies require. If a non-rated guard for a private drive is needed, use a standard cattle guard.

Cattle guards may be constructed with 3″, 3-1/2″ or 4″-1/2″ pipe.  The 4″ pipe allows for an approximate gap of 4″ between each pipe and be built with 9 pieces.  The 3-1/2″ outside diameter pipe guards have 11 pieces and are approximately 12-1/2″ tall.

There is no difference in strength between the boxed cattle guard and the flat styles of cattle guards.  These cattle guards are designed to accommodate full semi loads at 10 tons per axle.  All cattle guards weigh about 100 Lbs. per foot (a 10′ cattle guard weighs about 1,000 Lbs.). Add approximately 8 Lbs. per foot for boxed cattle guards and about another 200 Lbs. total for winged cattle guards.

Using Cattle Guards with Deer

To use for deer, you may need to place two cattle guards in tandem so you have 16 feet of protection. Cattle guards are easily bolted together to achieve greater distances in the direction of travel and create a larger deterrent for any animal wishing to attempt a jump.  Please note that we recommend standard gates be used when containing horses, goats, all small hoofed and sure-footed animals and animals with paws.

Ordering your cattle guard:

For a shipping quote, please send us an email with your destination zip code and quantity or feel free to call the telephone number at the bottom of this page with any questions you may have about our cattle guards.

When ordering cattle guards you will pay for the order without the shipping and we will collect the exact shipping cost with a second charge to the credit card used for the order.
Note: You must have equipment available to unload the cattle guards from the delivery vehicle when it arrives. The delivery truck will require you to unload the cattle guard with a loader or fork lift or some other means upon delivery.

Note with regard to dimensions: Private use cattle guards are NOT built to exact dimensions. Sizes may vary slightly. Adding the removable box option will add about 7″ to the total length and width of the cattle guard. For example, a 12 foot cattle guard will be about 12′-7″.

If you have any questions, would like a quote with shipping or if we can help with anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be glad to assist in anyway we can.

Don’t forget, Barn World is your headquarters for all your farm and ranch supplies including hay feeders, livestock scales, saddle pads and even grain bins.  We have a complete selection of livestock supplies for you everyday needs.

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How to Choose A Cattle Guard

Benefits of Cattle Guards

The benefits of having cattle guards on your property drastically outweighed the one-time burden of installation. How do you choose what design would be best for your operation? It commonly boils down to choosing between the style of the top pipe:  round or flat and the type of traffic that will be using it.


cattle guard on concrete foundations  cattle guard being removed from steel box

Round pipe cattle guards

Physical Barrier Characteristics:

The most aggressive of the steel cattle guards are made with round top pipe and provide a substantial physical livestock barrier. Its curved surface provides the least stable footing possible so your cattle can’t find a balanced or sturdy place to put their weight. The hoof will rock forward or backward and give the most uncomfortable footing possible that’s almost impossible to balance on.

Even if one of your animals does attempt to try a step on a top rail, the experience of the unsettling instability will make them turn the other way and they won’t bother to test it again. The inability to find stable footing on a round-pipe is the most effective physical deterrent besides a gate.

Visual deterrent:

Both round and flat pipe cattle guards provide a visual deterrent in addition to their physical barrier. They are traditionally mounted on concrete footings like a bridge which creates an open vaulted area underneath.  The drop under the top rails provides a visual cue of depth that in itself, can prevent cattle from attempting to cross.

There have been studies done with visual illusions painted on flat asphalt that resulted in cattle turning away even though the surface was perfectly flat. Researchers painted the illusion of pipes and a corresponding shadow to create the illusion of depth. When the cattle were exposed to the artwork, they assumed it was an unstable and elevated and did not attempt to cross.

This optical trick worked for a limited amount of time but eventually did break down after a few days as one of the cattle (the bravest apparently) did place a hoof on it and eventually crossed. The others soon followed and the illusion barrier on it’s own, was defeated.

Boxes for cattle guards:

Barn World offers round pipe cattle guards that have the option of being permanently boxed, an option for laying directly on the ground, or with a removable box for cleaning underneath.

Permanent box 

A steel skirt welded is all the way around the exterior, it may be placed directly on the ground. The permanent box keeps dirt from creeping when used without a foundations. It does not bear any weight and is only there to prevent dirt from creeping underneath. The design is simply laid on the ground with a dirt ramp up on either side for vehicle crossings. It’s very popular for low traffic areas and for use in construction sites as wash-outs and rumble strips. It can be used to clean construction equipment before going out on a public roadway.

Removable box

The standalone box stays in the ground so you can lift the guard and clean underneath.  The design keeps the surrounding area from being disturbed! It’s a nice feature that allows for a complete cleaning if you have the equipment to lift the guard.

The round pipe design is available in an economical private-use or in a highway rating. The HS20, public highway rating is 16 tons per axle and require for use in public roadway projects.

Flat Pipe Cattle Guards

The flat pipe provides the benefit of allowing high-speed traffic to cross more smoothly than a round pipe design. The pipe is flat on top with a large space between each rail. This design is still very effective against hoofs but provides high speed vehicles a smoother ride.

flat pipe cattle guard with concrete foundations

flat pipe cattle guard with concrete foundations

These cattle grids are also available to ship with precast concrete cattle guard foundations that can be lowered directly into the ground without the need for pouring concrete on site. The foundations come with anchor bolts already poured in them. The grid may bolted down to the concrete in the field. The precast foundations are useful in remote areas where concrete is not available.

Flat top pipe guards are available in a wide variety of load ratings for all types of different projects:

Flat Top Pipe Load Rating Availability

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

Secure your livestock and provide easy access to pastures with the right cattle guards for your property. You don’t always need to open a close a gate to keep your animals secure!

For more information or for help with planning, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help. Sales@BarnWorld.com or (720) 238-2190. Check out our Livestock Youtube Channel!

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Cattle Guard Questions Answered!

barn world header with a red barn and horsesEach 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.

cattle guard out of the ground

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

finished concrete cattle guard on the grass

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 cattle guard for your operation, please contact Barn World Livestock Supplies today and they’ll be happy to help!

barn world livestock supplies header

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Types of Cattle Guards

A cattle guard with a removable box for cleaning underneath

Livestock cattle guards have been in use for decades and with good reason:  They allow vehicles to conveniently cross a fence-line without the allowing a herd to wander off. Cattle guards provide effortless access to your pastures and provide the peace of mind that your animals remain safely contained, no matter who’s accessing the land.

Livestock Gates are inconvenient and less secure than cattle guards

The inconvenience of opening and closing a gate cannot be overstated.  Have you ever dreaded approaching a closed gate in a downpour or subzero temperatures knowing that you have to stop, get out and open the gate, get back in and drive through only to do it all over again to close the gate behind you?  It’s especially annoying when you’re climbing down from a large piece of equipment or when your cows are present and curious to see what the open gate is all about when you’re driving through.  These nerve-racking moments are over as soon as your cattle guard is installed.  Simply pass over the cattle guard knowing that your livestock cannot follow and carry-on with your day.

It’s not just you that’s inconvenienced with a gate and third-parties are not as diligent as owners when it comes to making sure it gets closed behind them.  Every someone else needs access through your fence line, there is a risk of your cattle escaping. All it takes is for one person to forget to close or not properly secure a latch and your livestock could easily slip out. This is especially important in remote areas where an open gate can go unnoticed for an extended period of time. Typically, it’s someone not affiliated with your operation that leaves it open and with access granted to third parties such as oil and gas companies, cell phone tower operators or any other organization that needs access to your land, it is difficult to ensure the gate will always be properly closed in a timely manner.

With the installation of a cattle guard, you can be sure that anyone can drive through your property and your animals will not be wandering off.  This peace of mind (especially at night when you’re trying to fall asleep!) is a real lifesaver and you can rest assured that your neighbor or ranch-hand has not allowed your investment to roam freely into the dangers of an unconfined area.

Types of cattle guards

Although all may be considered for your operation, each type of design has it’s own advantages.  Take a look at the round and flat top-pipe steel construction as well as the concrete design when planning your installation.

ROUND TOP-PIPE CATTLE GUARDS

A picture of a cattle guard before installation in the groundThe traditional design uses a round top-pipe to provide a strong, physical livestock barrier. It’s the most effective because a flat hoof is very difficult to balance on the rounded surface of the pipe. The combination of a large amount of weight balanced on a very small, unstable area creates a very strong negative feedback to the animal trying to cross. This physical deterrent is very effective even when tested by your most daring and curious cows.

The physical discomfort and resulting avoidance reaction is made more pronounced when coupled with the visual barrier of looking through the gaps of the top pipes. Oftentimes just the confusion created by the visual cues of the perceived varying depth is enough to dissuade even walking across.  In fact, some studies have shown that paint schemes on flat pavement designed to create the illusion of varying depths is often enough to prevent walking on, at least temporarily. The animals perceive that there is uneven ground and won’t bother investigating further.

Round top-pipe cattle guards provide the most effective physical barrier needed to keep livestock contained and allow vehicles to cross without the inconvenience or risk of an open gate.

FLAT TOP-PIPE CATTLE GUARDS

cattle guard with flat top rails sitting on concrete foundations.

To provide a smoother crossing for automobiles, especially at higher speeds, a flat top-pipe cattle guard may be what you’re looking for.  These cattle guards are typically for use in high traffic and high-speed vehicle crossings.  The top pipe is flat and narrow so that it provides both the physical and visual barriers necessary for hoofed animals.  Its physical deterrent is not as aggressive as the round pipe, but is still effective and provides a much smoother crossing for all vehicle types.

These cattle guards are also available in higher load-carrying capacity ratings than the round pipe and are typically seen as more aesthetically pleasing for designers and homeowners.

CONCRETE CATTLE GUARD FORMS

Another great option to the traditional steel guard is the use of concrete forms.  These forms allow you to pour your own and make as many as you wish.  Concrete cattle guards are used almost exclusively in rural areas that don’t see the high traffic areas of steel guards, but they do have a lot of advantages that steel can’t compete with.

A concrete cattle guard being removed from the mold.

Benefits of concrete cattle guard forms

One of the best features of using forms is that you can make as many of them as you like. With detailed instructions, you can create a 16 ton per axle (HS20- rated) crossing for your heaviest vehicles!  Your only cost is that of the concrete and the plastic forms themselves. If you have the ability to mix your own concrete, this can be an extremely economical option.

Shipping costs are also substantially less than that of one-piece steel products. The forms usually ship as an over-sized package and aren’t required to go on a flatbed truck via the common carriers. The shipping cost savings can be substantial and are often an important consideration for the overall cost of your project.

One word of caution with any concrete product exposed to the elements:  Keep an eye out for cracking or crumbling. Concrete doesn’t always do well with high velocity impact and chipping or cracking can occur.  Once started, a small chip can turn into a larger area of decay and cracks can allow water to penetrate the concrete which can then freeze and crack from within. A s long as you keep an eye out for external damage and patch it when necessary, concrete will last a very long time.

Whichever route you choose, a cattle guard can provide years of rugged use and the convenience and security of never having to manage the opening and closing of a gate.  It also provides the peace of mind knowing that your animals are held securely in their pasture!  For more information or help with your installation, check out www.BarnWorld.com or give them a call at (720) 238-2190 and they’ll be happy to help.

 

 

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Cattle guards or Gates?

Cattle Guards for Livestock Containment

Cattle guards have been the staple of livestock control on the farm and ranch for decades. Gates were the workhorse of the farm, but the inconvenience to the user created the desire for something better; something that was automatic and didn’t require extra effort was needed for frequent access to grazing and high traffic areas.  At the other end of the use spectrum, it was important that it be effective in remote areas as well.  Typically these areas see infrequent traffic and use by people that may not related to the ranching operations and therefor not as responsible at latching gates behind them every time they accessed the area.  Realizing that flat-hoofed livestock animals (read cattle) needed flat surfaces for secure footing, the round-pipe cattle guard was born.

cattle guards with wings and boxed

The problems with farm gates

The traditional metal swing-gate did a fine job of keeping livestock contained in pastures, but required some discipline from those using them. The inconvenience of stopping equipment, climbing down to open a gate while fending off any curious livestock was more than just a pain in the neck to users. They would also need to drive through the gate while keeping animals at bay, only to stop again to ward them off and close the gate behind them, making sure it was securely latched.  When making several trips a day through a pasture, or relying on those that needed to cross, but can’t seem to remember how to secure the gate behind them, the installation and use of a cattle guard can be a huge time saver!  It also eliminates the possibility of an open gate to provide a more secure pasture for the herd. No more searching and rounding up escaped animals because someone left a gate open!

red metal gate for the farm

Gates require that everyone who uses them be responsible enough to make sure they are secured after being closed.  A lot of pastures are in remote areas and need to accessed by non-ranchers. Land access may be granted to companies that operate cell phone towers, oil wells or other facilities that require less than frequent maintenance by non-farm related personnel. The sporadic traffic by those not familiar with livestock, or maybe just more concerned with convenience than keeping animals contained, don’t always do the best job of keeping gates closed. Leaving them open after they enter a pasture because ‘there’s no cattle around’, only leads to animals sneaking out. With a cattle guard, there’s no more searching and rounding up escaped animals because someone left a gate open!

 

Cattle guards rely on two powerful deterrents:

The optical deterrent
To effectively keep cattle in the pasture or grazing area where they belong without the use of a gate, a strong deterrent needs to be present and the cattle guard relies on two. The first line of defense is the creation of a visible barrier. The round top-rails create shadows and a perception of depth that cows pick up on as treacherous. In fact, there are studies that show when presented with highly contrasting lines painted horizontally across a roadway, some cattle will be spooked enough not to cross. The optical barrier created by the shadows of the rounded rails, when coupled with the actual physical depth of the vaulted area beneath it, creates a strong disincentive for further exploration and will usually turn a cow before they even consider stepping on it.

The physical deterrent
When coupled with the visual perception of danger, the physical barrier of a Texas Gate usually creates an overwhelming urge to retreat. The most common guards are made with round top-pipe so that when a large, flat-hoofed animals steps on it, it creates such an unstable balancing condition for the animal, they instinctively realize it is unsafe footing and realize it is an insurmountable obstruction. They will turn away before putting any real weight on their first ‘test hoof’ and be strongly persuaded to never go near it again.

The dangers and shortcomings of cattle guards

Horses:  With the convenience of using these round pipe crossings as effective barriers, there are also dangers present for other animals. The gaps between the top-pipes are excellent at creating unstable footing and an optical impediment to crossing livestock, but they also create a hazard for other animals. The most at risk are horses and I strongly recommend that they not be used with equine. A horse has smaller hooves and legs than bovine and their slender legs can slide down between the rails to the bottom of the vaulted area. This puts the most fragile part of the leg at risk of breaking and as a flight animal, when a horse begins to struggle to try and free itself, it can easily break it’s own leg out of fear. There’s nothing worse than seeing a horse stuck in a cattle guard and we do not recommend their use with equine animals – best to use a gate.

Paws and Small Hoofs
cattle guard is not effective with non-hoofed animals such as dogs and cats or with smaller sure-footed hoofed creatures like goats and sheep. The soft pad of a paw allows the animals to walk across the rounded surface of the pipe and the smaller hoofed animals can achieve balance on top of the piping for an easy traverse.

One exception we have seen is with deer. Even though they have smaller hooves, they do not like the unstable footing and will usually look for other paths or routes to roam.  Due to their incredible jumping abilities, we recommend a 12′ or deeper guard to provide a sufficient deterrent. They are able to easily jump a 6′ or 8′ distance, but usually won’t attempt a 12′ or longer leap.

Texas Gate Summery

Whether a large farm and ranch operation with frequent traffic or a remote area with sporadic traffic, a cattle guard can be an excellent option to keeping your livestock where you want them, grazing and growing.  Keep in mind they don’t work for all animals, but are a terrific option for cattle and convenience.  Visit Barn World for their large selection and ask their knowledgeable staff if a guard is right for your operation..

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Cattle Guards and Horses – A Word of Caution from Barn World

Cattle Guards and Horses

Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of calls for cattle guard quotes from horse owners. I wanted to give a quick review of why they’re not recommended for use with horses and why a traditional livestock gate is your safest alternative.


Cattle Guards vs. Gates

A red livestock gate with a locking chain attached cattle guard installed in the road with a truck driving over it

 

Dangers of cattle guards

Although cattle guards are very popular and provide the ultimate ease of access to all your pastures. They can also be very dangerous when used with horses as they have a more slender hoof and leg than a cow. These physical differences can allow a horse’s hoof to slip between the cattle guard rails. When this happens, they can slide down between the top rails until they reach the bottom of the vaulted area.

This exposes one of the weakest parts of their leg directly to the cattle guard rails itself. This ‘fall’ into the guard can lead to a struggle to free itself. It is an extremely difficult situation and can be very hard to even assist the horse in freeing itself.

The safest and really the only viable alternative to a cattle guard for horses is a gate. It may be less convenient than driving over a cattle guard, but it is certainly safer than exposing your horse to a possible broken leg.

As a quick side note: There are other hoofed animals that can easily cross the barrier. Goats, sheep and other sure-footed livestock that are very nimble can quickly learn how to get across the curved rails. Of course animals with pads, such as cats and dogs can also learn to tip-toe across the rails and escape to freedom!

 

Concrete Cattle Guards

As a quick point-of-interest, there are concrete cattle guards that are designed to prevent a hoof from sliding down between the top barriers.

The top vertical cross members are rounded concrete that taper together to a distance of 2″ at the bottom. This prevents the hoof from falling through and exposing the leg to breakage.

concrete cattle guard

Advantages Of Concrete Cattle Guard Forms

This style doesn’t require a vaulted area or foundation for support. They are built to sit directly on the ground without an open vaulted area underneath as seen in traditional designs. It’s recommended that they rest on a flat surface such as a bed of gravel to aid in drainage. Draining water away from any site is important for the longevity of any structure.

cement cattle guard form

The other nice thing is that you make them yourself in a re-usable plastic form!  This is beneficial in two ways:  lower shipping costs than steel and you can make as many as you like.  Set them side-by-side to create larger crossings and never have to worry about a hoof sliding through some steel rails!

 

Help with cattle guards

If you’re considering using a cattle guard where horses are present, we would suggest that you use a traditional farm gate or livestock gate and realize the inconvenience of operating the gate is well worth preventing the risk of injury to your horse.

Take a look at some of our Sioux Steel Livestock Gates in the video below and if you’d like a shipping quote to your address, just let us know!

Livestock Gate review:

If you have any questions or if we can help with your cattle guard decisions, please let us know and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

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Cattle Guards from Barn World

barn world cattle guard logo

Cattle Guards – an effective invisible livestock gate!

A properly installed cattle guard is an effective and popular livestock control devise that saves valuable time and effort. Available with the highly effective round top-pipe for the maximum hoofed animal deterrent and the flat top-pipe which provides a smoother ride for your vehicles while creating a barrier for livestock, it is easy to establish a safe perimeter to your pastures while granting the best ease of access possible. It won’t matter who’s crossing your land, they will never leave a gate open and cattle won’t be wandering off on their own.  Keep your livestock safely contained with a simple and very effective cattle guard.

There are many different types available, but the most common and effective are the flat top rail and the round top rail designs. Each of them is available with an engineered, heavy-duty highway rating, wings and the flat top rail can even ship  with pre-cast concrete foundations!


Round Top Rail Cattle Guards

These are the traditional design style in use all over the country. Typically they’re made by welding round pipe to the top of heavy duty c-channels or I-beams. The design calls for them to be mounted over a vaulted or open area with concrete footings to hold back the dirt and provide a foundation to transfer the weight of crossing vehicles to the ground. The vault area underneath the rails creates a void and the important visual perception of depth needed to deter an animal attempting to cross. Proper installation of the foundation is critical and a contractor familiar with the local soil conditions, including soil freezing levels and drainage issues should be consulted to ensure a long lasting crossing.

Cattle Guard with round top pipe

Boxed cattle guards

This design is made to lay directly on the ground. They have a steel skirt welded around the perimeter to keep dirt from creeping in underneath and are very popular in low traffic, low-speed areas like private driveways or pasture entrances.

It’s recommended to install on a flat area with crushed rock beneath to help with drainage away from the site. Simply dig a small amount to away from the top level of soil so that when installed, the top rails are slightly above the surrounding soil. A lot of customers will mount them on top of buried railroad ties to help prevent any movement over time. It also helps disperse the weight of crossing vehicles to the ground.

Popular installations include driveways, construction sites to clean dirt off equipment before reentering public roadways and remote areas such as cell phone towers, oil wells etc.

These ‘semi-portable’ guards can be relocated from site to site as needed and are easy to clean underneath. You can just drag it out of its locations, remove any debris and pull back into place!

Picture of a Boxed Cattle Guard

A cattle guard with a steel box welded around the outside of it.

Flat Top Rail Cattle Guards

This design is very popular with higher speed crossings. The ‘flat top’ of the rails are shaped like a hexagon (see picture below) and still provide an effective deterrent to livestock. The flat top allows vehicles to cross at higher speeds without the bumps of a traditional round-rail design. They’re seen on public roads around the country and are the most common design for high-speed traffic.

cattle guard with flat top rails

Cattle Guard Foundations

The flat top rail guards are able to ship them with pre-cast concrete foundations. This means a complete crossing can be delivered to the site without the need to pour concrete footings.

They are sold in pairs and are very heavy but you can off-load, set directly in the ground and bolt the guard to the top right in the field. It’s a very straightforward means of installation that can be done very quickly if the site is prepared in advance.

Cattle guard load ratings

The AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) provide axle load ratings for cattle guards to be used in public installations. Rated cattle guards are certified to meet the requirements of state and federal entities such as the Department of Transportation.

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)

Private use cattle guards When used on private property, certified load rating certificates are not required. This fact alone can save hundreds of dollars on a single cattle guard even though they’re built to the same specifications.  Private use guards will handle fully-loaded semi truck trailers as well as farm and ranch equipment. Very popular on private driveways, these cattle guards can be more economical.

If you need any help with your cattle guard project, would like a quote with shipping or have any questions at all about cattle guards, please contact Barn World anytime and they’ll be happy to help!

Sales@BarnWorld.com | (720) 238-2190 | www.BarnWorld.com

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Cattle Guards – Effortless Livestock Containment

Cattle Guards from Barn World

Cattle guards

A simple Texas Gate provides security and peace of mind for your farm and ranch and is one of the most valued assets of livestock equipment available to the modern rancher today. Gone are the days were you would have to stop and get out of your vehicle only to drive forward, stop again, get out and close the gate behind you. With a cattle guard, you won’t worry that someone may have left a gate open releasing your animals to the great unknown!  A simple cattle guard, when properly installed, will provide years of worry free livestock control.

Types of cattle guards

Round pipe cattle guards

Traditional cattle guards are made from c-channels or I-beam load supports with either round or flat top piping. Round top-pipe provides a greater deterrent for livestock by creating not only a rounded surface that’s more challenging to balance on, but also a greater visual deterrent. The curved edges create greater shadow contrast making it look even more imposing to animals. The combination provides an effective deterrent for livestock and other flat hoofed creature.

cattle guard with round top rails

Flat pipe cattle guards

provide a physical barrier while also creating a smoother ride for passing traffic than the round pipe. They’re most popular on heavily traveled roadways and provide a smoother crossing for high-speed vehicles. Although better for crossing trucks and cars, the flat surface will allow for a more stable foothold for animals and thus have a slightly less physical deterrent than round piped guards.

green cattle guard with flat top rails for highway use

Temporary or boxed cattle guards

Boxed guards are quite common in the construction industry. They are traditional round top-pipe cattle guards with a steel skirt welded around the outside to prevent dirt from creeping into the open vault area underneath. They’re designed to lay directly on a flat surface and can be used as a construction site washout or a dirt shaker to clean debris from equipment before leaving a job site. They are also convenient in that they can be transferred from one site to the next as work requires.

Cattle Guards for ATV’s

Barn World Livestock Supplies offers a custom guard built for ATV’s and designed to be inserted directly into a fence line. It’s a simple and effective means of quickly adding access to other pastures without creating the need for a permanent guard that requires concrete footings or vaults to be dug. Just cut your fence and drop it into place for foot or ATV access.

atv on a cattle guard

 

Warning:  Cattle guards do not work with all animals

Balancing a flat hoof on a round pipe is a difficult proposition for most animals. There are some exceptions: goats, sheep and other surefooted livestock can cross cattle guards fairly easily and your soft-footed barn yard friends such as dogs & cats will be able to walk right across.

 

Please note that cattle guards are not recommended for use with horses. Their smaller and slender legs can slide down between the rails and be expose to breakage at their weakest point. Being a flight animal means that they will struggle more fiercely out if panic to get out and unintentionally increase the risk of injury. The best barrier for these animals is a traditional farm gate.

metal gate

Simple and effective, cattle guards provide a swift and maintenance free method of ensuring your livestock stay on your ranch.You will never need to open and close gate again and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that a gate somewhere has been left open.

 

If you have any questions about installation or need and long-lasting heavy-duty cattle guard for your farm and ranch, contact Barn World at (720.238.2190). They have a large selection to choose from and a friendly knowledgeable staff to help.

Sales@BarnWorld.com

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