Cattle Guards can be dangerous for some animals

Barn worldCattle Guards at Barn World

Cattle guards can be dangerous to some animals.

Although they may be the most efficient means of keeping livestock in without a gate, we don’t recommend them for all animals.

When Gates are the Best Option

Horses may be most at risk when attempting to cross a guard. The anatomy of a horse’s leg is such that it may slip down between the pipes forming the top of the guard and into the vault area underneath. This will expose the weakest part of their legs to breakage, and once panicked, they can break it quite easily while struggling to get out. For their safety, we only recommend the use of gates with horses.

Goats and dogs are immune to cattle guards. These sure-footed animals can simply walk with ease across the top of the pipes. Again, gates are the best option for containment.

cattle guard on pre-cast concrete foundations

Deer Guards

Deer are extremely athletic creatures. Their ability to jump seems almost effortless as they cross large distances in graceful hops. It becomes necessary to extend the distance of the guard in the direction of travel to deter these animals from attempting to cross. A common whitetail or mule deer can easily jump an 8-foot distance without any effort at all. These animals require a better deterrent than a cow and by combining and bolting together two guards, the effective crossing area becomes too daunting even for these creatures. We recommend at least 16 feet in the direction of the vehicle travel to dissuade even the most ambitious jumpers.

When considering barriers for deer, it is important to remember that not only can they jump across large distances, but they can also jump over tall fence lines. This will require that the fence line be extended directly to the edge of the cattle guard. With bovine, a set of wings prevent crossings on the shoulders of the roadway, but with deer, a tall fence right to the shoulder will be required. You want to prevent jumping across the ends of the fencing.

Cattle Guards are for Bovine

The best use for these barriers is of course with cattle. The traditional round pipe guard has been found to be more effective than the flat top. Flat top finishes allow for smoother vehicle crossings, but the best for livestock have rounded tops.

Part of the effectiveness is a visual trick played on the cattle’s depth perception. The shadows created by the round pipe make the crossing look even more daunting than it actually is. This in turn creates an even larger mental barrier and dissuades most livestock from even considering a crossing. There are the occasional large bulls that when properly motivated can attempt a 6-foot or sometimes even an 8-foot jump, but these are few and far between. When properly installed with wings, almost all cattle will refrain from even attempting a crossing.

Although designed almost exclusively for cattle, these barriers may also be used for deer, when properly installed.

ATV Cattle Guard

side view of atv on a cattle guard

New this year is the ATV guard. Designed for ease of installation, this portable, standalone barrier is a great option for fence line crossings for off-road vehicles in remote areas. We have even custom designed these for golf cart crossings of fence lines. Simply make a cut in your fence and drop it into place. It couldn’t be easier to install and the built-in rise creates an extremely effective optical and physical barrier.

Barn World offers plenty of assistance

If you have any questions about your cattle guard project or need any help at all, please don’t hesitate to contact Barn World when planning your installation. We have a wide variety and can offer quotes and bids for any project.

Barn World, LLC


2 thoughts on “Cattle Guards can be dangerous for some animals

  1. Had cattle guards all my life ,family ranch is over 125 years old, sheep, goats,horses,hogs.6x8x5 round pipe cattle my 62 years ,never lost if they got filled with runoff,yes goats,not sheep would cross,only close to side on footing,
    Joe r. Texas

    • Hi Joe,

      You are correct, the vaulted area under the guards needs to be cleared out from time to time. If debris is allowed to build up and fill in the spaces between the rails, it’s no longer a viable livestock barrier.

      In our experience, the Cattle Guards aren’t very effective with goats and small-hoofed animals. Their smaller hoves and sure-footed agility will usually let them across. It’s the same for animals with pads for feet.

      If you have any questions or would like a quote for a replacement guard, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help.

      Barn World (720) 238-2190

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