Can animals escape from a Cattle Grid?

Most large animals quickly decide Cattle Grids are impassable and learn to live with them.

Generally properly designed and constructed Cattle Grids will successfully contain stock. They can rarely get stuck if they try to cross the grid. If the bars are made from materials and in sections permitted by the BS their legs will not be injured. If the pit is the correct depth their chests will not come into contact with the bars.

The most common reason for escape is the grid becoming full of debris.

Smaller wild animals (Mice, hedge hogs and amphibians) are more at risk.

Sad experience has taught lessons which need to be learned.

Firstly the pit needs proper drainage. Without this they may fall into standing water and drown or die of cold. Drains can be a mixed blessing. The pit is lower than the local ground level and if there is no active drainage and the drain is not sealed water can come INTO the pit!

Wild animals need to have provisions made for them if they fall through the bars into the pit. Larger mammals will usually cope with or be deterred by the Cattle Grid.

Secondly they need a ramp to escape from the pit. Thirdly there needs to be a duct or pipe which allows them to get past any sleeper walls to access the ramp.

History of the cattle grid.

All species and all sizes are readily contained by a cattle grid

It is not clear where or when Cattle Grids emerged as an effective solution to confining stock while allowing wheeled traffic unimpeded access through fences. There are indications that it emerged separately in regions hemispheres apart.

In the UK there were units in place in Victorian and perhaps Georgian times as Country Estates grew in popularity. Tricky to open a gate wearing a crinoline while up to knees in poo! Ask Ian Harvey!

The intervention of an Engineering Genius in the form of Geof Freedman, Chief Civil Engineer of the Forestry Commission was a game changer. The FC used huge numbers of Cattle Grids and he needed to standardise them and reduce the cost for installation. His design is now the Industry Standard. It is modified to deal with different loads. The beauty of this elegant design is its speed of installation – road closed for hours rather than days.

A proud, Coded Welder shows of a Pitless Unit. The lower section is fixed permanently in the ground and the grids are removable for cleaning. Craig is now on a diet!

There has been an attempt to offer a “Standard Unit” by IAE but these rely completely on the quality of the concrete works with often dire results. Grids banging as they are crossed are irritating and in time the repeated flexing can made welds fail or members to fail. It is impossible to hold down a grid which does not fit properly onto the concrete.

A novel, (novelty?)approach by Ian Harvey Fabrications is to supply a pre cast concrete base for the units. Laugh – I thought my trousers would never dry!!

You may gather that your guru prefers the Pitless/Drop-in units as they usually work instantly and for a very long time. There are occasions when a conventional unit is the best solution and it can be the cheapest.

Why do I need side fences?

Side fences keep stock safe and prevent them from by-passing grid

The side fences serve to different purposes.

When deer are present the height of the fence needs to be increased

Firstly they prevent stock from bye passing the grid and breaking through the fence/hedge or walking along the edge of the pit

Stone walls are a very effective side fence provided more agile stock do not jump off them into the pit!

Secondly they prevent animals from blundering into the pit from the side

Conventional versus Pitless Units

There are 2 main kinds of Cattle Grid.

The Conventional Cattle Grid rests on has a concrete slab placed below ground level. Cast onto this as a series of concrete sleeper walls and a surround which usually includes a shelf along the sides of the pit for the ends of the steel cattle grid to rest on. The grid itself is a large fabricated grating which rests on the shelves and the sleeper walls. Its performance depends on : Precisely cast base & Properly designed and fabricated grid

A Conventional Cattle Grid before it has been galvanised

The Pitless or Drop-in Unit can be installed onto either a flat concrete slab at a particular level or a bed of compacted DoT Type1 or similar, to spread the load and not crumble over time. The delivery vehicle arrives and the unit is placed into the excavation and back filled. It is ready to use.

Proud Coded Welder shows off a Pitless Cattle Grid. The lower section is fixed permanently in the ground and the grids are removable for cleaning out unit.

Although there is more steel, labour and galvanising costs in a Pitless or Drop in unit this has to be set off against the cost to provide the concrete base and sleeper walls and the disruption of the track/road being closed for days.

Are Cattle Grids noisy?

The short answer is “Yes, but manageable”.

The fact that the surface is broken generates noise but this can be more or less depending on other factors.

The shape and spacing of the bars is a crucial issue. The BS defines the permitted size and ranges of spaces for bars. This is to ensure effectiveness and to protect animals who become stuck in a grid.

Circular Bars with maximum permitted spaces are the noisiest.

Round bars with large spacing

Square or rectangular bars with minimum, permitted, spacing are the quietest solution to this particular aspect.

Square or rectangular bars are quieter

but there are further relevant factors….

The steel unit needs to be a good fit with the concrete sleeper walls or base. Steel banging on concrete does not aid sleep! This is best dealt with by ensuring high quality concrete forming to ensure a snug fit with the flat steel structure.

It is increasingly difficult to secure the services of Contractors with the necessary skills. This is a driver for the switch to the Pitless Units also known as Drop-in Units . These units if correctly fitted are very quiet.

Hopkins Drop-in unit. Painted finish is a false economy

These Pitless or Drop-in units avoid sleeper walls by providing a steel base for the grids to sit on. It is vital that these are well made so the removable grids do not bang against the base creating another source of noise.

What is a cycle-way Cattle Grid? – more thoughts

Cyclist segregation on the approaches to Bath University – through National Trust (Grazed) Parkland

Sadly this installation has left a strip of concrete (on the right hand edge) a sheep would find both enticing and easy to use to thwart the grid.

They are not only used by mildly eccentric elderly gents!

The main aim is to improve the users experience by avoiding repeatedly dis mounting to open and close gates. They also help to lower the extraordinary high blood pressure experienced by farmers when their stock escape.

An optimum arrangement for all users

What is a cycle-way cattle grid?

Cycle-way cattle grids hugely improve cycling enjoyment on routes with many fences to cross

Ongie Cattle Grids are the brainwave of “laughing” Scott Roberts. An inventive soul with a cruel sense of humour . It is not true that he hates cyclists – allegedly

These useful smaller Cattle Grids do not need to carry the same loads as a vehicle grid. They do need to conform as closely as possible to BS spacing and grid bar ranges. Correct pit depth is vital if stock control is to be effective.

There are some designs which are frankly deadly! One used around Cambridge made from small diameter ridged rods is particularly unattractive.

Can Cattle Grids be used with animals other than Cattle?

One of our grids installed at Chessington Wild Life Experience separating the Rhinos from the Giraffes

Although Cattle Grids refer to cattle they are equally effective controlling other species.

Sheep and goats are routinely controlled in this way.

Deer are more adventurous and will need a grid with a longer length to contain or exclude them.

Last February we received an enquiry to design a Camel Grid for a Gulf State Highways Department.

What is a Catch Pit?

There is a very important distinction between a Cattle Grid and a Catch Pit.

This is a Cattle Grid

Cattle Grids are designed to contain stock and so to miniseries the harm if an animal become trapped in it

Catch Pits look like cattle grids but are designed to capture flood water, running along a road or drive. They should never be used to contain stock as animals could be injured, potentially fatally, by becoming trapped with their legs in the pit.

This is a Catch Pit

Catch Pits are usually shorter in length along the road but much deeper to contain the maximum flows. Depths can exceed the length of an amimal’s leg !