Cattle Guard article from Working Ranch Magazine

Love That New Cattle Guard

– by Jennifer Showalter, Working RanchTV Article 68

cattle guard installed in a road

Handling Equipment Powder River cattle guards are designed to meet the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) specifications. The strongest models are built to handle up to 30 tons per axle. Opening and closing a gate from time to time is no sweat off any rancher’s back. It’s when the same gate has to be gone through over and over that it becomes more trouble than it’s worth. With this in mind, every rancher has a cow or two that seems to be able to smell an open gate and won’t let anyone slide by without closing the gate each and every time. To ease the aggravation and time loss with these high usage areas, ranchers are relying more and more on these simple and effective livestock barriers. Matt Johnson with Powder River Livestock Handling Equipment in Provo, UT points out, “Cattle guards are the ultimate gate replacement for high traffic areas, but placing a guard in an area that you access only occasionally or that is less critical for gate control is probably a waste of resources.” To help with the selection and installation of a cattle guard, Working Ranch went out and gathered some pointers from a few different manufacturers. This is what we found:


Picking the right one:

When making a selection there are a number of things to scratch the old noggin over. For starters, rancher must determine what is the heaviest and the widest pieces of equipment that will ever cross their fence-line. They then have to look for the cattle guard that will meet those standards.

Quality materials and craftsmanship obviously influence the price of a cattle guard, but also determine its longevity as long as the proper load rating is not abused. “The higher the (load) rating, the higher the cost. The U-rated guards that are designed for extremely heavy loads are the most expensive. Anytime the distance across a road exceeds 16’, shipping rates can rise dramatically. In terms of cost, it sometimes makes more sense to order two small grids to bolt together in either direction than it does to order one large custom size,” says Robert Moore with Barn World, LLC in Parker, CO. Ranchers must decide if a flat or box type works better in their environment and whether they prefer square or round rails. Flat style cattle guards are placed over a dug out cement vault, whereas box style design will have a built in vault and sit close to the top of the ground.



This varies because of different soil conditions, climates, drainage, and intended uses. Barn World suggests ranchers have a local contractor, who is familiar with the area, set the more permanent types of cattle guards. Installation for these foundation attached grids typically involves digging a one foot deep trench that is one foot wider than the cattle guard. Six inch wide walls should then be poured around all four sides to prevent dirt from collapsing in. In the bottom of the trench, a 12” wide and 18” deep footer is needed under each beam of the crossing. It is critical that it sits on footers that are sufficient in strength to support the full load of crossing traffic. Ranchers must keep in mind that the vault does not offer any load carrying support. While setting it in place, installing large PVC pipe through the forms or digging out and adding gravel will help with drainage issues. Box guards do not need a vault. Their box formation keeps dirt from working into the guard. “One of the biggest mistakes folks make is setting their (box style) grid at ground level.

Cattle Guard Wings


Cows don’t like to jump on a grade where their front-ends are higher than their back-ends,” explains Tom Jones, with JE Hill Precast in Leesburg, FL. When placing two of these barriers next to each other, both gaps and edges must be avoided. If there is a solid edge, cattle can master walking it. Some ranchers find it beneficial to purchase or build a set of wings. “Various styles of wings can be used. They should be able to be secured to the guard grid or the base it is built on. Any type of wing should remove the risk that livestock can circumvent the guard,” notes Johnson. Jones points out another added benefit of wings, “Wings are a way of exaggerating the opening of a barrier. For example, if you have a 16’ cattle guard and a 16’ mower, you can lay the wings back and fit through.”


A peek at what these boys have to offer:

Barn World offer a few different designs including square cross rails, available in either powder coated green or painted yellow. These square, or rails with a flat top area allow for higher speed traffic and offer a smoother crossing for vehicles.  They meet the various American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) specifications for public roadway projects as well as heavier-duty engineer crossings designed to handle up to 30 tons per axle. They’re available in 8’, 10’, 12’ and 14’ road lengths and 7’5’’ and 8’ widths. One of the popular options is a hinged, three rail clean out section in the center that allows easy access to for cleaning. It’s available on all of their models except the heaviest duty U-80’s. Wings, steel posts, and pre-cast concrete bases are also available.

Barn World

Barn World offers rated, standard, and basic boxed and flat style crossings.

cattle guards

Their rated guards are intended for highways or for heavy off-road equipment. They are available with certified load ratings of H-15, H-20, U-54, and U-80. They also carry an HS20 rating to meet State and Federal public roadway construction requirements.

An very interesting and convenient design new to the market is their ATV guards.. The ATV cattle guard is made of 1.5 x 11 gauge square tubing and is 72” wide by 91” long. The overall width, including their wings, is 87”. A 14” ramp on each side allows them to be set on top of the ground and eliminates the need for a vault. You simply cut your fence-line, set this guard on top of the ground and reconnect the fencing the the side.  Boom!  You’re done!

Take a look at their entire selection on line and make crossing your pasture fence-line as easy as, well, just driving across!


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