Cattle Guard Designs and Options

Barn World carries many different types of cattle guards in design and load-ratings.  There is a design for almost any type of project, from residential driveways, highway projects and even for heavier-than-public roadway projects.

Load Ratings

The engineered load-carrying ability of the guards are certified on a ton-per-axle standard; that is, how much weight is on each axle . These engineering standards are set by the AASHTO or American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials show below:

Rated Cattle Guards

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)


The minimum requirement for public highway projects is the 16 ton per axle rating but as you can see, they can be designed to hold almost double that if needed!

We are usually involved with highway projects and the H-20 rating is the most popular and in high demand however, we get a lot of calls for cattle guard installation for use on private property that don’t require such a high engineered load rating.

Private Use Cattle Guards

We have a design for private use in the round top rail guards for driveways and farm and ranch traffic that can accommodate fully loaded semis.  Although they’re not certified by an engineer’s stamp, we estimate they hold 12 tons per axle which is the same as the flat top rail H-15 load rating.

The best part of this residential design is that it’s much more affordable while still meeting the typical driveway traffic needs of the common farm and ranch.

They are the most economical steel cattle guard category and will provide easy access to your pastures while eliminating the need for gates. You can see the round top rail cattle guards here and the flat top rail cattle guard design here.

cattle guard designs
All of the Standard Guards are made from NEW Schedule 40 steel. All ends of the top rail pipe are capped to prevent rust. Bolt-on wings and boxed cattle guards are available with all sizes and are finished in gray enamel.


Types of Cattle Guards

Although they’re all effective physical livestock barriers, there are some options available for the best fit for your needs. Wings, boxes and the size of pipe should all be considered before selecting what’s right for your use.


This style is designed to sit directly on the ground without concrete footings and it’s an available option on all the round rail designs. What we’ve done is welded a steel skirt to the perimeter to keep dirt from creeping in underneath.  This also allows you to make a dirt ramp on either side to help vehicles cross without it running underneath.  The weight of crossing vehicles is transferred from the top rails to the c-channels below and then directly to the ground.  Unlike a traditional installation, the weight is directed through the full length of the channels rather than just on the ends.

The fixed box design is popular in low traffic or remote areas like cell towers, farms and ranches as well as temporary sites.  In fact a lot of construction companies use them as wash bays or rumble strips for equipment leaving a site. They can also pick them up when done and move on to the next job.

The removable box option makes it convenient to remove the guard without disturbing the surrounding installation area. The boxed section does not carry any of the load, it’s a separate and individual frame the guard sits in and provides no structural support at all.

Fixed Boxed Option

steel skirt welded to perimeter of cattle crossing

Removable Box Option

removable box option on cattle grid

Because they do rest directly on the ground, a few precautions should be noted. A flat ground area is a must as any kind of slope will allow it to ‘walk’ or travel downhill. A lot of customer will bury railroad ties to anchor them and help prevent walking. The issue is drainage. We’d of course recommend a local contractor familiar with the site conditions be consulted and would suggest a bed of crushed gravel be used as well.  This will help drain water away from your crossing and preserve the installation area.



The traditional installation calls for a concrete foundation to anchor to and transfer weight to the ground.  A ‘flat’ style design is mounted to a poured-cement footing in the ground and bolted directly to prevent movement. This permanent installation allows for heavy-duty and high-traffic crossing without concerns of movement or settling. We usually see the rated cattle guards used for these public highway construction projects that require the load ratings that private use designs don’t call for.

Below is a generic foundation diagram for reference.  Please note that every site is different and a qualified professional should be used to ensure a proper, long-lasting installation.

Cattle Guard Foundation Diagram

foundation diagram for grid installation


This is an essential option to prevent your cows from simply walking around your barrier.  The wings allow you to tie the fencing directly to the guard so they can’t step around the connection. If a single fence post is planted next to the middle of the grid, livestock are able to bend around the post and walk next to the side of the steel and go on their merry way!

cattle guard with wings for attaching to a fencline

As you can see from the picture above, the wing takes the vertical structure of the fence and spreads it horizontally to the bottom of the grid. This effectively creates a ‘horizontal fence’ so your animals can’t walk around the guard.


A note on using these barriers for deer.  Believe it or not, deer are much better jumpers than cows! Depending on the type of deer in your area, they can easily clear a 12′ long jump and won’t even think about flying over.  We suggest at least 16′ in the direction of vehicle travel to discourage jumpers.

To get that kind of ‘depth’, we can lay two sections next to each other and bolt them together. We can pre-drill holes upon request so you can just connect them in the field when they’re delivered.  Just remember to check that your fencing is tall enough to keep them out as well!


We’re happy to help help select the proper crossing for your needs. We can forward a quote with shipping directly to your site. Feel free to give us a call anytime at (720) 238-2190 or email See our entire cattle guard selection here and send us an email and we’ll reply with a quote with shipping for your consideration!


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