Cattle Guards

Cattle Guards, Cattle Grids or Texas gates, are designed to allow easy passage of vehicles while containing livestock. Although termed “cattle” guards, they are effective on most domestic animals. They may be installed adjacent to standard hinged gates where livestock passage is also required. Cattle guards are a convenience gate and are normally installed in fence lines where vehicle passage is frequent. This convenience must be weighed against any additional cost or maintenance of cattle guards over standard gates.

Cattle guards require side framing to be secure. These framing rails run from the fence and posts down to the ends of the cattle guard.

Cattle guards have not proven effective in controlling wildlife (deer out of orchards, hay fields, etc.). Tested in conjunction with deer exclusion fences, guards 10 feet wide and up to 24 feet across using 1/2 inch steel plate on edge spaced 4 inches apart did not repel deer. Full size swing gates may be the only alternative in these cases.

Cattle Guard Design

Cattle guards work on the principle that most livestock lack depth perception and by constructing an open slatted crossing over a pit they will not cross it. Painted white stripes on black pavement have been known to contain cattle.

In addition, the cattle guard slats are chosen to be difficult for livestock to walk on. Because these slats must be raised off the ground a pit or cavity is formed which must be kept clear of silt, etc. This usually requires some annual maintenance.

Temporary or Portable Cattle Guards

If a cattle guard is required for only a short period of time, low cost temporary designs are used. They are less convenient to cross than permanent guards but are easy to install.

One design is a raised wood or steel platform with an approach ramp at each end that is set on the existing road surface. No road excavation is required. This rigid platform must be strong enough for the vehicle traffic. It is removed to clean out accumulated dirt, etc. Refer to Figure 1, below.

Another temporary design is also raised above the road bed but has no approach ramp. Instead it “springs” down when driven on. It may have a shorter life than the previous design but should be lower cost as well as lighter and more portable; see Figure 2.

Figure 1 Rigid Temporary Cattle Guard
Figure 2 Spring-type Temporary Cattle Guards

Permanent Cattle Guards

These designs use either pressure treated wood or steel and concrete for long life. They may be installed as a “bridge” over a ditchline or with raised road bed approaches on both sides. Either way, good access for clean out is important. In difficult situations, the cattle guard may be installed at road level over a dug pit. Sections must then be lifted out to clean the pit.

A well constructed permanent cattle guard will be 6 to 8 feet across and 10 to 16 feet wide (from side to side) over a 2 foot deep pit with good clean out access. A cattle guard design is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Permanent Cattle Guard