Metal Farm Gate Types

Installing a farm gate? Here’s what you need to know to ensure it serves your farm well.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock

If you live on a farm, you’re probably familiar with a variety of different gates, whether they’re used for your pastures or your orchard or even the entrance to your farm. Among the most popular types of farm gates are metal gates because they’re sturdy and easy to use.

But as you may have discovered, there are many different types of metal farm gates—differing both in design and in material—and figuring out which ones are right for your farm can be a challenging task. To help you sort through the maze of data, here’s everything you need to know about metal farm gate types.

Types of Gates

farm gate, fencing

The first step is to figure out what style of gate design you would like to have. There are many types to choose from.

  • Bow Gates: These gates are surrounded by a rectangular frame of metal that acts somewhat like the frame of a door, meaning that the gate is pre-installed and doesn’t need to be specially hung. They are designed for use with corral panels—they are basically a regular corral panel with a gate—and don’t need to be secured to the ground, meaning that they can be easily moved if necessary.
  • Livestock Gates: These are your typical metal farm gates, usually constructed from five to seven horizontal metal bars joined together by three to five vertical bars. They can be made as tube gates (see below) for the benefit of being lightweight, or they can be constructed of heavier, stronger material for more durability.
  • Cattle Gates: These specialty gates aren’t really gates at all. Also known as cattle guards, they’re essentially a metal gate laid flat over a ditch in the ground. Commonly constructed of large metal tubes or bars laid close together, but with gaps in between, cattle gates are actually an opening in your fence line—you can easily walk or drive across them—but are effective because the gaps in between the bars are large enough for livestock to step through, making them afraid to cross the opening. It should be noted, of course, that this form of gate may not be completely effective, and because they aren’t safe for livestock to walk across, you’ll need a more traditional gate elsewhere in the pasture for moving your livestock to a different part of your farm.
  • Field Gates: Field gates are exactly what you would expect them to be: large gates for use at the entrance to a field, or even the entrance to your farm. They are typically very long to facilitate traffic of all kinds, from people to large vehicles, and while they’re similar in appearance to livestock gates, they often have additional cross-braces to further strengthen the gate.
  • Kissing Gates: These clever gates are really two gates in one. When you open a kissing gate, you only gain access to a small standing area enclosed by fencing; to leave the standing area, you must return the gate to its “closed” position, which also creates an exit from the standing area. Kissing gates are usually small and not for use by large livestock, but are an easy, simple, way for people to enter a pasture without opening a livestock gate.
  • Tube Gates: Tube gates are metal gates constructed of hollow tubes, making them much lighter than gates constructed of solid metal. This makes them convenient to install because they won’t require posts that are as large and sturdy to hold them up, but you do sacrifice some strength.

Types Of Metal Used In Gates

Farm gates can be made from a variety of different metals, but steel and aluminum stand out as the main options you’ll encounter.


Aluminum is a popular choice because it’s lighter, less expensive, and is much more resistant to corrosion and rust than steel. For these reasons, it’s a great choice for decorative gates that won’t receive a lot of hard use.


If you need a tough-as-nails gate that is unlikely to be damaged even by the strongest livestock, steel is the way to go. Many steel gates are sold with a special powder coating to help them resist rust, and some are galvanized (coated with zinc) for further protection, so with routine care and maintenance, steel gates can last for decades.

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Where To Place Fence Gates

Theoretically, gates can be placed anywhere along a fence, but some locations will make more sense than others. The gate for a pasture is best placed in a corner, as it’s much easier to guide playful or stubborn livestock out of a pasture by steering them into a corner rather than through a gate in the middle of a long fence line. For the sake of convenience, it’s also wise to place your gates as close to your livestock barn as possible, making the walk to and from your barn as short as possible and lessening the distance of ground that will experience the wear and tear as a walking path.

Also, whenever possible, gates should be placed on high ground, as frequent use can erode the ground and cause water to gather at the gate entrance; if you place your gate in a low area where water already tends to gather, this problem will be made worse. Placing gates on high ground will go a long way toward reducing water issues.

Additional details about planning farm fences can be found here.

Equipment/Supplies Needed To Install a Gate

farm gate, fencing
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

The exact equipment and supplies you will need to install a metal gate will vary depending on the type of gate you’ve chosen, but in most cases you’ll need a large fencepost for holding the gate, along with equipment for digging the fence-post hole.

For a large gate, you’ll need a deep hole—it’s best to have the fencepost set at least 2 to 3 feet into the ground. If you’re installing a very heavy gate, you may also need a concrete mix on hand to secure the post firmly in place and support the weight of the gate.

Also useful is a set of large wrenches (or else an adjustable crescent wrench), since many metal farm gates are installed using large bolts with nuts that must be tightened securely into place. In these cases, you may also need a large auger drill bit to bore holes through your post to make way for the bolts.
In addition, since many metal gates are very heavy, be sure to have multiple people on hand during the installation process—at least two people will be needed to hold the gates in place, and you might need a third person to tighten the nuts.

Gate Accessories

If you want more than just an ordinary metal gate, you can choose from plenty of accessories that will spruce it up and make it easier to use!

Latch and Lock

Depending on your gate’s intended use, the most obvious accessories are a quality latch and lock; many metal farm gates simply employ a chain that you wrap around a post to hold the gate shut, but for better security (and to prevent curious livestock from playing with the chain and perhaps opening the gate), a metal latch and lock is a great accessory.

Gate Openers

It’s also possible to install remote-controlled gate openers so that you can open a gate as easily as your garage door; this is a particularly good accessory if you have a gate as the entrance to your farm or if you travel your pastures by tractor or ATV and want to be able to open the gates without stopping and getting off your machine.

Gate Wheels

Gate wheels, which attach to the bottom of the gate, can lessen the strain on the gate hinges and post, which is helpful for long or heavy gates that might otherwise require extremely sturdy posts and hinges.

No matter which type of metal farm gate you choose, you can be certain that with care and maintenance, your gate will serve you well for years to come.

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