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  1. #1
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    Default Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    I'm sure old beards have heard this more than a few times but even they were newbies once. I've just purchased a 90 acre farm and need a versatile machine to do a number of things. Although I do have lawn and hayfields, I don't need finish mowing, haying or baling. What I do need is snowplow/throwing, tall, heavy brush clearing, including thick saplings, deep digging (9'+) and some field grading for horse pastures and corral, but not for planting. I had spent most of my time concentrating on compact tractors (kubota and New Holland 45-60 HP range -- those makes only because there are local dealers to my central Massachusetts location). A New Holland dealer suggested I give the skid steers a look (LS 180), so now I'm a confused newbie starting from scratch. A little help, please.

  2. #2
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    Sacramento
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    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    Quote Originally Posted by parisq View Post
    I'm sure old beards have heard this more than a few times but even they were newbies once. I've just purchased a 90 acre farm and need a versatile machine to do a number of things. Although I do have lawn and hayfields, I don't need finish mowing, haying or baling. What I do need is snowplow/throwing, tall, heavy brush clearing, including thick saplings, deep digging (9'+) and some field grading for horse pastures and corral, but not for planting. I had spent most of my time concentrating on compact tractors (kubota and New Holland 45-60 HP range -- those makes only because there are local dealers to my central Massachusetts location). A New Holland dealer suggested I give the skid steers a look (LS 180), so now I'm a confused newbie starting from scratch. A little help, please.
    Let's see:

    Snowplow/thrower - CUT with plow/blower
    Tall heavy brush clearing - CUT with rotary mower (aka brush hog, shredder)
    Field grading - CUT with box blade, arena groomer, rear blade (take your pick or picks)

    Then you have a toughie:

    Digging 9-ft deep trenches or other excavation. It 's the depth that could be a problem for CUTs with backhoe attachments.

    So 3 out of 4 of your basic requirements say "CUT".

    How much digging to you plan to do?
    I'd be looking at renting an industrial grade TLB for this work.
    If you're handy with a wrench, maybe a used TLB is the way to go.

    Running a skid steer around a 90-acre farm seems like the wrong way to go.

  3. #3
    Silver Member tractorman99's Avatar
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    NC

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    Tractor is a better choice because attachments are cheaper other than the
    bachhoe and loader which are costly attachment.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member
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    Jul 2003
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    SW Indiana
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    Ford 1920 4x4 (traded in on Kubota). Case 480F TLB w/4 in 1 bucket, 4x4. Gehl CTL60 tracked loader, Kubota L4330 GST

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    parisq,

    I have both a tractor and a tracked loader which is basically a skidsteer with rubber tracks instead of wheels. Some miscellaneous thoughts:

    Skidsteers excel at tasks that require maneuverability- working in tight quarters, loader work, etc. Forward visibility is excellent but side and rear visibility is awful. They are much slower when traveling to the "back forty"- a consideration with 90 acres. They also bounce around a lot on rough ground. Although my tracked loader floats over mud, I suspect the small wheels of a skidsteer would sink pretty fast compared to a 4 wheel drive tractor.

    Skid steer attachments are very expensive compared to tractor implements. I haven't priced any lately but a rotary cutter for your brush, weeds, and thick saplings may cost $4000 or 5000, compared to $1000 or 2000 for a 6 ft. tractor bushhog.

    My tracked loader has a heated cab and there is no comparison in comfort when plowing snow to my open tractor. Others that have snow blowers may comment on needing protection when using them.

    I don't have any data but suspect that since the skidsteers are completely hydraulic, they burn more fuel than a comparable tractor, since so much energy goes up in heat of the oil.

    I'd stick with the tractor for now.

    John

  5. #5
    Member
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    Central MA

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    Thanks guys. I suspect I'll probably get a different read from the boys over at skidsteer.com, but going back to a CUT seems logical. As for digging, it would be some light trenching but serious burial of large composted brushpiles (a recommendation by my landscaper). The single biggest usage would be maintenance of pastures (3 seasons) and snowblowing/plowing in winter. I also need good brushhogging to reclaim some of my acreage. That's one of the reasons the skidsteer looked good was the ability to raise a brush mower a good height to knock down small trees and fat saplings with everything in front of you.

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
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    Jan 2007
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    Amanda, OH
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    John Deere 5400, Farmall H, Farmall Cub, Allis Chalmers CA

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    Overall the tractor would most likely serve you best as you have already figured. But why not get one of each. If you do just settle on a tractor I would recommend no less than 60HP PTO.

  7. #7
    Platinum Member
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    Jun 2007
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    The real central PA everything else is philly or pittsburgh
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    DK45 SE HST

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    I'm almost done with a serious project, moving tons of earth, gravel, shale, digging a new foundation, filing in an old foundation, doing all the water lines, sewer, electric, cable etc.

    When it comes to digging in the earth, the skidsteer and the tractor don't compare. A BIG tractor, 55hp or more, will have enough FEL capacity to likely perform the tasks you have mentioned. My 45hp tractor with an approx 2k lift capacity was nowhere near good enough for many jobs (to be read FEL work). For all the other tasks you have mentioned a tractor would do. Due to time constraints, I had to have a guy down the road help me many times with jobs. His skidsteer ran circles around my tractor, his lift capacity was higher, and his bucket was bigger. He also sits lower to the ground with a full cage around him. My .02, based on your description, is that you would need at least a 60hp range tractor with a real good FEL to start even thinking about going 9'. If your only talking about trenches, then hire a guy with a trackhoe or big backhoe to do those and a 45-55 should suffice.
    DK45 SE HST, RFM, BB, FEL, PHD, toothbar,rear blade, canopy, pallet forks, 6' tiller, and now I need an addition on my pole building

  8. #8
    Super Member
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    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    I'm of a different mind. The clearing is best done by having a dozer come out and push the trees over. 100-150/hour depending on size of dozer. Bigger is better. Way bigger is way better for pushing stuff over!

    When you get into the rest of the jobs, it's probably a toss up between cut and skid. A tracked skid would be better at all dirt moving jobs. Hands down better. But, your looking at some serious money. Also, many track skids have operational costs that CUT's don't. Track's cost money. Figure between $3 and 10 per operational hour. So, every 1000 hours you will have to shell out $3000 to 10,000 for tracks rollers, bushings, etc. Just part of doing business.

    For farm, ranch or hobby land like yours, a cut in the 50hp range would be about right. A lot depends on what you want to move, dig, etc. As that neck of the woods has a lot of rocks, and as rocks are heavy, bigger is probably better. Basically, get the biggest machine that you are comfortable with. Tasks will go faster and be easier to do.

    Enjoy the hunt for a new machine!

    jb

  9. #9
    Platinum Member
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    Amanda, OH
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    John Deere 5400, Farmall H, Farmall Cub, Allis Chalmers CA

    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    When it comes to digging in the earth, the skidsteer and the tractor don't compare. A BIG tractor, 55hp or more, will have enough FEL capacity to likely perform the tasks you have mentioned. My 45hp tractor with an approx 2k lift capacity was nowhere near good enough for many jobs (to be read FEL work).
    I don't consider a 55HP tractor a big tractor at all. In fact I would call it a small utility. And unless you have a very large track steer a utility will easily out dig it. My experience is skid steers are fantastic at moving loose material fast but lack enough tractor to push into hard packed soil. And most steers are only about 1500lbs. lift capacity. Almost 1/2 that of a tractor. Again unless you get a really big steer that will set you back almost 6 figures.

  10. #10
    LarryRB
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    Default Re: Compact Tractor vs Skid Steer

    parisq

    someone here posted that cuts cannot dig trenches very deep and this is just plain wrong. I have a kubota L48 with 11 ft deep capacity and in fact,. am in central MAss location myself,,, Skid steers have their place, like anything else. I won't have one for two reasons, I haven't the need, and two, if I did, it would be limited to the barn area or house area,, As you should know, we have tons of rock, ledge, granite outcroppings, large boulders and more rocks. I learned one thing about our geological set up,, R1 tires don't last very long compared to R4's. and skids can have problems when constantly confronted with the rock and outcroppings. The new Kubota M59 can dig at 12 ft, I believe the Deere 110 is at least 10 ft as is the new Yanmar cbl 40 also is ten feet,.

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