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 are 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.

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

barn world livestock supplies header