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  1. #21
    Super Star Member IslandTractor's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
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    16,988
    Location
    Prudence Island, RI
    Tractor
    2007 Kioti DK40se HST, Woods BH

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    Going back to the original question, what is the SMALLEST tractor? That depends more on what you intend to do with it than the overall acreage I'd say. Of the implements you mention the hay spear is the most concerning as that implies lifting bales but you don't tell us what size bale. Some bales weigh over a ton and obviously would require a 40+hp tractor/FEL to handle. Other bales can be lifted by a man. You also don't tell us whether you want small because of the desire for a physically small tractor or whether you are just using small to mean low cost. I'm guessing the latter.

    I have experience with a tough little 21hp tractor (Kioti CK20) with a pretty powerful loader for its size (lift at pivot pins 1170lbs) which was extremely capable at all sorts of tasks when fitted with appropriate sized implements. If you are looking for the SMALLEST practical general purpose tractor I'd look at that or the equivalent Mahindra. The new line of kubota B series in the mid 20 hp range would also be a consideration. None of these sub 30hp tractors is going to plow 100 acres or lift one ton bales but they would more than double what you were able to do with your old 15hp tractor for sure. They are not sub CUTs and have good ground clearance and with a few exceptions really can do pretty much all the types of tasks the bigger tractors can do so long as you can accept the limitations of smaller sized implements.

    My other personal experience is with a Kioti DK40se which is twice the horsepower of the CK20 and more than twice the lift capacity. I'm sure it could handle the bigger round bales. I do mowing, brush clearing, and general utility work on about 25-30 acres with the DK40se and haven't once wished for a bigger machine (well maybe once or twice but then I wanted a bigger bulldozer.). It is also a darn good value and I believe can still be had for under 20K with loader. I got mine for under 18K in 2007 right after they came out. Nothing in the tractor world touched it for value/price performance at that time. It is not a barebones machine either and comes standard with suspension seat, electrohydraulic PTO and 4WD, rear remote, draft control etc as well as a four year warranty. Pretty hard to top as a value tractor especially with zero percent financing.

  2. #22
    Super Member
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    Sep 2000
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    6,595

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    Tractor "size" is a tough one as some jobs need raw hp and some need weight and some need width, etc.

    For a 100 acres, I'd want a tractor in the 35hp range as the smallest. If you are doing cattle you will probably be wanting some hay. I'd let the attachments dictate the tractor. Small square bales need less hp than the large round ones.

    jb

  3. #23
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    4,145
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Tractor
    Kubota L5030 HSTC, MF 5455

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    A CK 20 will not lift a good sized round bale on the front loader. If you aren't working the ground a large compact will work. I suspect you'd be better off in teh long run with a small ag tractor. 50 hp at least.

  4. #24
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    4,227
    Location
    South Central OK
    Tractor
    Kubota Grand L-4610HSTC

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    As is to be expected, you get a lot of divergent opinions, some of which may be useful.

    The smallest tractor that is viable to scoop manure and haul bales of hay is the smallest tractor that will safely pick up the bales in question. Whether or not you have other tasks to perform was not part of the problem you presented.

    Picking up a bale that is large and heavy for a tractor can be done more safely from a 3PH mounted spike than the FEL with a hay spike. Unfortunately, if you need to stack the hay or get it down from a stack, load it onto or from a trailer the 3PH spike is NOT going to git 'er done.

    I have a 39HP kubota (L-4610HSTC) with a FEL. I use a FEL mounted spike to stack round bales 3 rows high. I have the max cast iron rear wheel weights Kubota recommends and use a very HD box blade on the 3PH as a counter weight. I am careful maneuvering, especially with a bale raised way up.

    If you get a spike for the FEL then DO NOT get just the single spike. Get the type that has one or two smaller spikes below the large spike. It is difficult to handle stacked round bales with the single spike. When you spear a bale and lift it using a single spike the bale will rotate on the spike and end up with the heavy side down. In order to stack (or retrieve hay from a stack) with a smallish tractor you need to be able to spear the bale well below center and lift it without it rotating (a job for a hay spike with one or two little auxiliary spike below the main spike.

    Without the extra "helper" spikes I couldn't stack or retrieve bales above the second row. With a much larger tractor that would not be an issue but a much larger tractor would be too big and clumsy to manuever in my hay barn.

    I do not ROW CROP. I brush hog (up to 4 inch or so trees), do some disking, and maintain gravel roads and drives. I use my FEL a lot and the box blade with hydraulic raise/lower scarifiers a lot too. I have 160 acres with 30+ black Angus. I do not make my own hay but hire it done. I skid logs up to 24 feet and nearly 3 ft diameter at big end.

    My tractor is too small about the same percent of time that it is too big and just right most of the time. A friend with a 30 HP JD can't take hay out of my barn above the second row and the second row is a struggle. His brush hog is stressed above about 1 1/2 inch brush. He is quite unhappy that a sales person steered him into that tractor as all the tractor he would need for his work. He too has 160 acres and more cattle than I have.

    Pat
    Never wrestle with a pig (however titled) as you just get dirty and the pig has all the fun.

  5. #25
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    524
    Location
    Kansas
    Tractor
    Mahindra 3215 4WD

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    Go with something in the 40ish HP range. I have a Mahindra 3215 and could lift a round bale on the 3 pt, but not with the fel. 100 acres is quite a bit. Have fun choosing. Maybe you could demo some. There are lots to choose from.

  6. #26
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    4,227
    Location
    South Central OK
    Tractor
    Kubota Grand L-4610HSTC

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissan197 View Post
    I have a Mahindra 3215 and could lift a round bale on the 3 pt, but not with the fel.
    Now here is an honest comparison of a 32 HP Mahindra to a 39HP kubota.

    My Kubota (as derated by the HST) easily stacks 1000 lb+ round bales 3 rows high with a hay spike on the FEL.

    Pat
    Never wrestle with a pig (however titled) as you just get dirty and the pig has all the fun.

  7. #27
    Super Member schmism's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
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    5,041
    Location
    Peoria IL
    Tractor
    New holland TC(33)

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    Quote Originally Posted by patrick_g View Post
    Now here is an honest comparison of a 32 HP Mahindra to a 39HP kubota.

    My Kubota (as derated by the HST) easily stacks 1000 lb+ round bales 3 rows high with a hay spike on the FEL.

    Pat
    i guess no one read my comment about class 2 CUT's vs Class 3 machines. and that in New Holland world one more HP in the name (TC33 vs TC34) means a switch from a class 2 machine to a class 3 machine that is capable of doing much more than my 1 hp less class 2 machine.

    if your going to go off and start comparing various tractors i suggest you stick to a single size class.

    I still stand by my Class 3 CUT recommendation (which depending on brand) will range from the mid 30hp to 50+ hp. I do feel that the 45-50hp engine in a class 3 frame size is much better matched engine to frame size than the smaller 35ish hp power plants you can get... albeit cheaper overall cost

    also note that while the lift capacities on a 35ish hp class 3 no cab @$22K is roughly the same as a 50hp class 3 w/ cab @$48K.... with an avg cost of nearly twice the other one... are they really a fair comparison?
    Steve - TC33D 4x4 FEL, dual rear remotes with toys

  8. #28
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    4,227
    Location
    South Central OK
    Tractor
    Kubota Grand L-4610HSTC

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    Steve, Thanks so much for your contribution. Please excuse my ignorance of all those class distinctions which apparently don't get mentioned much around here. It was not my intent to compare apples to golfballs and I sure get your drift. I took the information at hand and thought I noticed a gross difference in capability for such a slight difference in HP. I did, of course, and it is real just maybe not a terrifically realistic comparison. Your comments helped clarify the reason for that.

    Still, I'm in the Island Tractor camp mostly. To answer the poster's Q, avoiding the assumption of facts not in evidence, you really need to address the bale handling issue. How heavy and how high stacked. If not "on the ground" you have to go FEL with a spike and I certainly stand behind my previous post regarding spikes.

    The number of acres he has does not enter into the issue. Lots of land (whatever that is) does not automatically necessitate a BIG tractor. I have no repetitive tasks that are too big for my 39HP kubota and I certainly have a wide variety of tasks on 160 acres with about 35 head of black Angus, 12 ponds, roads to maintain, and on and on. I say again, I do not row crop so I don't plow hour after hour or do similar tasks which would justify a larger tractor more suited for that work (and who knows, maybe without a hydrostat... just maybe.

    Pat
    Never wrestle with a pig (however titled) as you just get dirty and the pig has all the fun.

  9. #29
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    152

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    I'd also say something in the 45-50 HP range but going one farther I'll say it needs to be a real ag utility tractor, not a CUT. CUT's are the rage with the hobby farmers now because they tend to have all the bells and whistles. There are some quite powerful CUT's out there and the average buyer doesn't understand that there's more to the equation than horsepower. A 45 HP CUT that weighs 3000 lbs isn't going to do the same job as a 45 HP utility that weighs 4500. Utility tractors are meant to do farm work on a daily basis instead of occasionally like the CUT's. If you've got 100 acres then you need a real tractor. I've got about 320 acres and I have a 72 HP massey ferguson 4x4 with a front end loader. I could have probably gotten by with something in the 45-50 HP range just fine, but the extra size is often a big benefit and is never a hinderance. My tractor cost very little more than a comparable tractor in the 45-50 HP class. I think the 45-50 HP tractors are the most popular because they're about the largest that can be pulled by a 1/2 ton pickup and bumper pull trailer. My tractor's too big for that but I have a 32' gooseneck and a 3/4 ton dodge diesel that works well for moving it.

    Long story short, size and weight are most often more important than horsepower. Get something big enough to handle the implements and move the stuff that you need moving, don't try to squeak by with "just enough". You'll be glad you didn't a few years down the road.

  10. #30
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    249
    Location
    Parkland,Washington State, U.S.A.
    Tractor
    Bolens TX 1504 (G154) 1957 John Deere 420C crawler

    Default Re: What's the smallest practical HP/Tractor you'd consider?

    I have a 2004 F-250 diesel for pulling my tractor, so size of the towing vehicle shouldn't be a problem. So far, it looks like 45 HP is the bare minimal I should go.

    What's the criteria for the different class tractors (class 1, 2, and 3)?

    One of the reasons I decided my little 15 horse Bolens isn't enough was when I tried to use a post hole digger. The auger bit into the ground, and I was up to my gearbox before I realized was looking at sky. It took me three hours to unscrew the auger. I figured my tractor doesn't weigh enough to that kind of work.
    Life is too short to drink bad coffee!

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