Many ranchers use cattle guards and many install them themselves. This is not difficult to do, but
there are several factors that will influence the installation process.
1. The type of cattle guard purchased. See the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
2. The land it is to be installed on (dense packed, gravel, loose soil, etc.). This is a serious
consideration that must be taken into account before the purchase of the desired cattle
3. The amount, frequency, and weight the cattle guard will receive. Cattle guards that will
have vehicular traffic will need different installation than those only used to keep cattle
in an enclosed area.
Here are some common questions and answers about cattle guard installation.
Q: Do I have to dig a pit beneath the cattle guard?
A: Depends on your land and the specific use of the guard. Instead of digging, if you are using a
Boxed cattle guard, simply set the cattle guard on top the ground and build up material from the
road to each side, as a ramp. This works for cattle guards that will only be used for livestock, not
for cattle guards that might have big trucks or trailers traveling over them.
Q: How deep does the pit under the cattle guard need to be for it to ‘work’?
A: Measure the distance from the bottom to top of the cement beam at its edge. This
measurement is the depth you will need to dig to install the cattle guard level and have it be level
with the road.
Q: How long does it take to install a cattle guard?
A: Most types can be done in two hours or less.
Q: Why might I need a cement foundation for my cattle guard?
A: Cement foundations have many advantages. They are easy to clean out. They are permanent,
usually poured with 6” walls. They allow for tractor-trailers and other heavy vehicles to pass
over safely. If only a pit is dug without concrete, the walls can easily cave in during a heavy rain,
the pit can become filled with debris and difficult to clean.
Although pouring a foundation is more work than some other installation methods, this type of
installation saves you money by allowing you to purchase the least expensive flat cattle guard. It
also saves you money via its durability.
Q: Can I install a concrete foundation myself?
A: Many of our customers do just that. Here’s how:
1. Dig a one-foot deep trench, at least a foot wider than the cattle guard.
2. Pour a 6-inch-wide wall around all four sides of this trench. This prevents the earth
from collapsing into the guard under the pressures of heavy vehicle traffic.
3. In the bottom of the trench, pour a concrete footer, 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep
under each beam of the cattle guard.
4. Install large PVC pipe through the forms to provide drainage. If the drainage in your
soil is particularly bad, you will need to run both a pipe and a French drain out into the
surrounding ground. Proper drainage will prevent water and rust problems.