When you keep livestock, you need to ensure your fields are accessible, but you also must prevent your animals from escaping. You may be considering installing gates or cattle guards for your entryways, but there are many factors to consider. To help you determine which access solution will work best for you, here’s a brief overview of the benefits and drawbacks of cattle guards and conventional gates.
A cattle guard, sometimes called a cattle grid, is a low-profile way of containing some kinds of livestock. It consists of a series of bars with gaps between them, laid over a depression in the ground. The gaps between the bars are narrow enough that the structure doesn’t impede foot or vehicular traffic.
The cattle guard provides an effective deterrent for bovine livestock, both physically and visually. The gaps between the bars make it difficult for flat-hoofed animals to keep their balance. Some have round bars for an added deterrent. A brave cow might try one hoof but will immediately retreat when it feels unstable. Most livestock will be deterred simply by the shadows of the bars and will turn back without even risking it.
Cattle guards provide quick, hands-free access for drivers and people with their hands full. There's no need to hop out of a vehicle to open the gate and then again to close it. You don't have to fuss with latches or risk a gate being left open. Unlike conventional gates, you don't run the risk of animals escaping while a vehicle passes through.
Although a metal gate requires more effort and attention to open and securely close, they're essential in situations where cattle guards provide insufficient containment. Gates are a safer option if you have horses because their smaller hooves may pass through the gaps of a cattle guard and cause catastrophic injury. You’ll need a gate to contain more surefooted livestock like goats and sheep.
To keep nimble animals like deer away from your livestock, you'll want a sufficiently high gate rather than leaving a cattle guard for them to leap across.
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