A Solar Powered Cattle Crossing Gate


Anyone who’s traveled the grounds of a cattle ranch will tell you there’s a lot of stopping to open and close gates. But this project is aimed at letting you operate the gate from the comfort of your vehicle. It uses a spool of wire as the gate, lowering it for vehicle access with the use of a remote control.

The base station uses a solar panel to keep the battery topped off. But if you’re not frequently using the system it shouldn’t take much electricity at all. An Arduino board listens for the signal from the remote control. It then unspools the wire until it lays flat across the ground and can be driven over. Once the car has passed another click of the remote raises the gate back into position. There’s even a version that uses two gates which make up a cattle corridor.

We were thinking that it would be easy enough for the cows to push right through this. But after seeing the clip after the break it’s obvious they like to follow the rules.

[Thanks Mark]

21 thoughts on “A Solar Powered Cattle Crossing Gate

  1. It’s an electric fence tape. They know if they touch it they get a zap.

    Also, looks like they are going to the milking shed – they know where they’re going and they want to be milked more than go wandering, since their udders are full and one imagines quite uncomfortable.

  2. even if it wasn’t an electric fence cows are weird with fences.
    they really will just follow the fence even if they are clearly able to just walk through it. at least until spooked or no other choice

    1. Then there are the cows that are determined to get on the other side of the fence.
      When they discover a fence isn’t electric, they rub against it, lean on it, continually “work” the fence until staples on the fence posts loosen (allowing more slack in the wire)
      When enough staples eventually work loose, there is enough slack to slip through or under the wires.

  3. I grew up on a dairy farm…cows are smarter than you think. 2 or 3 zaps from that fence charger is all it takes for them to leave it alone. It’s been said that they can actually sense when the fence is hot…I know we never had any escapes from our fence that weren’t linked to shorted out fencing.

    1. Where last worked we had to put up an electric wire around a tank battery one one lease. A battery powered mechanical impulse charger was used. I don’t know how, but evidently the cattle associated the noise with a hot fence. The battery die or the charger fail, they where inside. Yea dumb cattle are smarter than we would think.

  4. cool project and I don’t want to rain on it but in Australia we just put cattle grates next to our gates so that you can drive across the grate and only use the gate for moving cattle

    1. Well here in the States we have the same thing, call them cattle guards, why they became to be call that I don’t know. I’m not that sure you would want to use two cattle guards here. They get in a hurry one might get jostled into a cattle guard, and break a leg. Aldo some use swing gates that open up in the middle with charged wires arrange so the cattle will not push against them with a material that won’t scratch the vehicle on the gate a vehicle can slowly drive through the gates with the gates closing after it’s through.

      1. On my uncle’s ranch, one of the cattle guards has a hole that was torched into it to allow a horse to remove its hoof after it got stuck in it. (They torched a distance from the horse so not to burn it.)

  5. We had a big horse enclosure behind my parents house, and when we replaced the fencing, the only thing keeping them in was a few long strips of masking tape between the fence posts. It’s crazy how strongly animals can be conditioned like that.

    1. You have to realize the same thing works on humans as well, so it’s not really crazy at all. After all, the horse/human would have to have a reason to want to leave in the first place to even care to check the fence. A fence that is down or different might be something to curiously examine, and woops, they’re on the outside… but a piece of tape? Fence is there, all is normal, stick to grazing. Then maybe a nap.

      1. Humans work the same way. At my sisters graduation the school put up curtain s around the perimeter of the room to make it look nice. When it came time to exit the room I remembered seeing a second set of doors at the entrance to the gym. When I looked around I noticed they were behind the curtain. So while the rest of the herd was waiting to get out of the “only” two doors I grabbed my parents and ushered them behind the curtain and out of the second set of hidden doors.

      2. Humans as a whole don’t have that same mentality. If we did, we’d never have gotten to the moon, or mars, or developed computers. Recently it seems like some (unfortunately) influential people don’t look beyond what’s obviously visible, which I think is holding our species back, but in general Humans explore as far as they can.

        When the section of fence blew down(why we were replacing it) a few of the horses did wander off, but they were just over the hill on a neighboring farm. They didn’t run away like they were escaping, but it was the fence(or illusion of a fence) and not the “this is home” instinct that was keeping them there.

        It’s more like we tricked them. If I were to come into your house and replace a section of a wall with a seamless, verbatim paper print of what the wall looked like, would you even notice? How long before you actually realize there isn’t a wall there?

  6. In response to some comments and queries:
    The wire is not electric, but looks like fences around the farm that are. It could be electrified if necessary. but usually isn’t.
    Nomad suggests that in Australia they have Grids. Yes, I’m in Australia and we do. however they cost about $600 each, and could easily cost that much again to install (vs $320 for parts for the featured twin gate). Also, there is the possibility to damage feet, as others have remarked.
    Swing gates are a good option, but this is a shared road, and shared with some expensive “town” cars (ie not ours). Any physical contact is not ideal.
    As for how long the “wire” would last, a second hand this electric style tape is used for visibility, and if broken, you tie it up and off you go again. Ideally a stronger tape and a breakaway handle would be ideal – a farmer invented one ages ago, but still tracking it down.

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