Farm Gates: Weight Is More Important Than Gauge

Reader Contribution by Staff
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Don’t do it. Don’t let the confusion around 16-gauge vs. 20-gauge vs. 14-gauge cause you to purchase the wrong gate. Todd Harne of Tarter Farm & Ranch Equipment oversees Tarter’s Steel Production Facility and understands how to make sure that folks buy the gates and corrals they need to protect their animals and to run their farm and ranch smoothly.

“When it comes to buying the right gates, the first piece of advice about understanding gauge is simple. Don’t talk gauge,” explains Todd. “If you tell me you need a 16-gauge gate, it’s like telling me that you drive a car. Well, what kind of car do you drive? A Lincoln? A Lamborghini? Talking gauge is just sharing only one piece information, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Contributing to the confusion surrounding gauges is that they can vary widely across the same industry. For example, a 16-gauge gate from one manufacturer may be .060 to .065 inch while for another it can be .055 to .060. Both are “true.” Doesn’t sound like a big difference? Wrong. That small fraction can equate to a difference of thousands of pounds of steel as well as thousands of dollars when enclosing a large perimeter.

“What you need to be concerned with is making sure you understand the weight of the different gates. By comparing the average weights of the gate, it will give you a clearer picture than if you try to compare the gauges of the gates. The bottom line is the heavier the average weight of the gate, the more durable it is,” says Harne. “But it’s important to remember you should spend your money wisely. You do no not need the heaviest gate possible in all the areas of your farm or ranch.”

Be smart when purchasing gates and corrals and invest wisely. At the same time, understand which areas of your property require heavier gates and which ones don’t. For example, most likely the back of the hay field won’t require the heaviest duty gate. Instead, go with a lighter gate there and install heavier weight gates and corrals for your higher traffic and containment areas. Typically a 2-inch diameter heavy-duty gate (for example 12-foot length by 62-inch height and 118 pounds) is best for high containment and high traffic areas while the lighter weight gates are great for the majority of your property.

“It only takes one cow to decide to jump a corral. If you have an economy corral in there, chances are you’re going to wish you didn’t. The lighter product can easily be crushed and next thing you know, chaos. The cows are going to run. There’s a reason for the expression ‘herd mentality.’ If the herd gets out, it’ll cost you time and money. You may need to work a whole extra day just to work the cattle back,” explains Harne. “On the other hand, the economy gates are practical and work great for the majority of your perimeter.”

Installing heavier gates and corrals in high traffic and containment areas will help prevent injury to the animals and the people working them. “The scary thing is, often when a cow decides to jump and a lighter panel is installed, the gate can tip over and crush people who may be outside of the facility,” recalls Harne. He recommends that hobby farmers create a strong containment facility that will allow them, as well as veterinarians, to provide the best care for their animals in a safe environment.

Why should you trust Todd Harne? That’s easy. He grew up on a large farm in Kentucky not far from where he runs the production facility at Tarter. He began overseeing the factory over a decade ago and his roots with the Tarter family can be traced all the way back to his elementary school days. Todd runs his own farm and owns 32 head of cattle as a cow-calf operator. If you’re ever in Dunnville, Ky., be sure to stop by the plant. He’ll gladly show you true Southern hospitality and answer all your farm and ranch questions.

For more information about Tarter Farm & Ranch and where to find Tarter products visit

Photo: Tarter Farm & Ranch Equipment