How to Build a Cattle Head Gate

Written by keith allen
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How to Build a Cattle Head Gate
Head gates are used to hold cattle for medical treatment. (cow. cow in farm/field image by L. Shat from

A cattle head gate holds the animal in place while it is treated with medicine or handled for other purposes. Commercial head gates are available, although the gate can be constructed in most farm shops. The head gate is held open while the animal moves forward extending its head through the open gate. One side of the gate pivots and locks across the animal's neck preventing it from backing away from the head gate. The cattle head gate is often coupled with fence units that prevent the animal from moving to the left or right.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 8 by 8 inch posts (2)
  • 4 by 4 inch timbers (3)
  • Post hole auger
  • Tamping rod
  • 1/2 inch bolts 14 inches long (8)
  • 8 inch strap hinges (2)
  • Power drill
  • Small chainsaw or large reciprocating saw
  • 2 inch strap iron (4 feet)

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  1. 1

    Set two 8 by 8 inch treated posts 22 inches apart at the planned location of the head gate. Use eight-foot tall posts set at least three feet deep using post hole augers and a tamping rod. These posts serve as the anchor of the cattle head gate.

  2. 2

    Attach 4 by 4 inch lumber on the front side of the post at ground level, 23 inches above ground level and at the top of the post. The ground level cross member is fitted between the posts while the other cross members are attached to the front of the posts. Drill holes through the 4 by 4 and 8 by 8 inch timbers. Use half inch by 14 inch bolts to hold the timbers in place.

  3. 3

    Attach a 4 by 4 inch timber from the top of the post on the right side to about 10 inches from the post on the bottom 4 by 4. This is the fixed side of the cattle head gate. Attach a nine-foot-long 4 by 4 inch timber to the bottom cross member about 10 inches from the left post. This is the movable side of the cattle head gate.

  4. 4

    Attach a 4 by 4 inch timber to the top of the right hand post with an eight-inch hinge. Approximately two feet, six inches of the timber should extend above the post. This timber serves as a handle.

  5. 5

    Connect the top of the movable side of the head gate to the top of the handle with a two foot, seven inch piece of two-inch strap iron on each side of the timbers. Drill through the strap iron and the 4 by 4 timbers and use a half inch bolt to hold each piece in place.

Tips and warnings

  • The gate is closed when the handle is closed against the right hand post. This pulls the movable timber against the animal's neck and holds it in place.
  • This project requires some heavy lumber and iron. Don't be tempted to use lighter lumber, it won't stand up to the strain of large animals struggling against it.

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