Barn World Post: Cattle Guards – a cattle guard overview

Cattle Guard Overview from Barn World

Choosing a cattle guard for you project doesn’t have to be overwhelming and we’re here to help.  Here is a quick review on the subtle and not so subtle difference between cattle guard offerings. There are two common types of cattle guards:  Boxed and Flat.  Each has its’ own installation requirements as detailed in ourinstallation post.

Boxed style cattle guards are built to lay on flat ground.  A steel frame is welded to the cattle guard all the way around to prevent dirt and debris from migrating its way underneath.  It is not to support the guard, but is there just to keep the dirt out.  The boxed cattle guard will rest directly on its C-channel beams.  To help with drainage, a gravel underlayment is recommended. These types of cattle guards are very popular with semi-temporary installations such as construction sites or limited access areas.  They are also used as wheel wash-outs for trucks entering public roadways. Flat style cattle guards are designed to mount to a foundation over a vault and are used in permanent installations and public roadways.  Please read the post on installing flat cattle guards or visit our informational website for more information on the footing and foundation requirements. Flat cattle guards will rest entirely on the footings and pour concrete foundation.  The weight of the crossing traffic is transferred from the pipes, to the structural beams, to the footings and then to the ground.  It is important that each footing is supporting the length of the beams for proper weight transfer. Common points: Both flat and boxed cattle guards have the same strength values.  The boxed merely has a steel skirt welded to it and rests on the ground rather than having permanent footings to rest on. Cattle guards are usually made with 4-1/2” OD pipe and will use 9 pieces to cross the beams or they may be built using 3-1/2” OD pipe and 11 total pieces.  The spacing between the pipes is near 4” on average and the total height from the top of the pipe to the bottom of the support beams is near 12”. The cattle guards usually come in a gray enamel, but other colors are available on request.  The most popular request is for safety yellow as it is sometimes required for government projects and construction site. Flat cattle guards weigh approximately 100 lbs/liner foot – so for example, a 10’ cattle guard will weigh about 1,000 pounds.  If the guard is boxed, a good rule of thumb is to add 10 pounds per foot.  If wings are added as an option, estimate 100 lbs for each wing, or 200 lbs total. Use With Other Animals   Deer Cattle guards can be effective with other animals other than cattle. One of the most common request is for deer.  Unfortunately, deer are very athletic animals and are fantastic jumpers.  An 8’ guard (in the direction of vehicle travel) will not stop or deter a deer from jumping it.  The best arrangement to keep deer out is to set two 8’ cattle guards side-by-side to create a barrier of 16’ in the direction of travel.   Cattle guards are easily bolted together.   Our experience has been that most deer will not venture over the guards that provide 16’ or more of ‘discouragement’. Cattle guards are easily bolted together to provide extra distance in the direction of travel. Goats and horses Cattle guards are not recommended for horses.  The horse hoof has been shown to slip right through the 4” spacing and unfortunately broken legs have resulted.  We do not want to see anyone’s animal put down because they got stuck in a cattle guard and would instead recommend a gate. Goats on the other-hand are very sure-footed animals that are able to walk right over a cattle guard without thinking twice.  Dogs are also pretty adapt at crossing. Taking Delivery Please remember these items are very large and heavy.  When they ship, they are usually on a boxed semi-truck or a flat bed trailer.  The trucks do not have the ability to unload at the point of delivery.  It is therefore important for the customer to have equipment capable of unloading.  In some cases, it’s possible to drag the cattle guard out of the trailer, lower one end to the ground then the other.  The unloading equipment does not necessarily have to be able to lift the entire guard all at once.  It’s safer to lower one end to the ground so the rig does not come unstable and endanger anyone on the ground. For more information on cattle guards, please call (720) 238-2190 or visit or our informational website at Don’t forget that we also have a large selection of livestock equipment too!


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