Opening gates, especially in high traffic areas, can be time consuming. Traditional cattle guards offer one solution, but Evan Rayl, Bridgewater, Iowa, adapted the cattle guard concept to build an electric cattle guard.

The electric cattle guard is just over 10 feet wide, and the spreader pipes are made from a 21-foot gas pipe cut in half. They are pushed into square tubing in the end frames, but not attached. The cables and tarp straps keep it together. The end frames are 6 feet long and 3 feet high. Eleven 1⁄ 8-inch cables run across the unit, attached to a 1-inch fiberglass post that is just short of 6 feet long. The fiberglass posts are held to the end frames by six tarp straps, one at each end, and held up with another tarp strap at each corner (a total of 16 straps).

The cattle guard has 7 inches of clearance from the ground, but because many ATVs have less than 7 inches of clearance, two 2-inch x 12-inch treated boards were placed in the center that reduce the clearance to 5 inches to allow an ATV to cross the guard.

Rayl uses the electric cattle guard for all types of vehicles and equipment, and says it has required very little maintenance. He has witnessed only a couple of cows try the guard. “They both put a foot between the first two cables, touched one of them and quickly withdrew.” Rayl says the cost is between $150 and $200, depending on salvage materials one might have on hand.