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  1. #1
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    The Heartland of America

    Default One size fits all?

    Well, I just "bought the farm" and I need some tractor buying advice, badly. The long version of my question follows later in the post. The short version of my questions is this:

    Can I expect a tractor suitable for mowing/baling approx 200 acres that is capable hauling large bales to also have good utility for FEL work, landscaping, etc?

    The long version is:

    I would like to know if I can reasonably expect to get by with one "just right" sized tractor or if I'll need two (one for utility, one for hay). Here are some of my factors. If I need to post more info, please ask:

    220 acres, consisting of mostly rolling pasture (170 acres), 40 acres woods/brush, 10 acres of house, barn & lake.

    My wife's plan (dream) is a large commercial greenhouse, garden and orchard. Mine is cattle and other small livestock. We are both hoping these plans can live together, but that is another topic for another forum.

    We have lots to mow & brush hog. I want the area around the the lake, at least one side, to be finish mowed.

    Both the wife and I need to be able to operate the tractor for any given task. I am inclined to believe that she will be intimidated by a larger tractor, and will leave all of that work to me. This perfect tractor needs to be clutchless. Her knees are a bit "trick" and probably wouldn't hold up to the riggers of constant forward/reverse operation that I think she will using it for. The more it operates like a large riding mower, the better. I'm fine with the clutch, though.

    If money were no issue, I would buy about a 30-40 HP utility tractor with loader, blade, and small brush hog or finish mower. As well as about a 70+ hp tractor for hay. Since money is an issue, my leaning is toward a smallish utility tractor just to stop the bleeding, and working a share-crop deal with a neighbor for the hay. I am just looking for some affirmation.


  2. #2
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Cedartown, Ga and N. Ga mountains
    1998 Kubota B21, 2005 Kubota L39

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    Hi Chris, welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new farm. I think you need to looking at two tractors or leasing the hay fields for shares. When you talk 170 acres of hay, thats a lot of hay, you may well need two tractors and some employees just for that. Also for large round bales and rolling hills I would consider a 70 hp tractor to be on the low end of the hp scale for baling. That size tractor isn't going to be as user friendly as you want for the wife's projects and landscape type of work.


  3. #3
    Epic Contributor
    jinman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Texas - Wise County - Sunset
    NHTC45D, NH LB75B, Ford Jubilee

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    Chris, I think if you don't bleed money you may bleed time. You have plenty of work for two tractors or more. I think I'd pick the small tractor first and then start looking for a way to get a bigger tractor. Many times the bigger tractors are much cheaper than you'd expect if you are willing to accept a used tractor. I had a friend buy a 100+ hp tractor because it was much cheaper than the 50 hp tractor his partner wanted. I think you'll find the same thing to be true.

    Welcome to TBN and good luck with your projects.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member tessiers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Central Maine
    05' JD 790 - 53' Ford NAA - 70' Massey Fergusen 135 diesel - 67' John Deere 3020 deisel - 77' John Deere 2130 - 1950 John Deere MC

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    I agree, we are running on about 35 acres owned and leased and we run 3 tractors. I run a 2005 JD 790 as my work horse day in and day out around the barn tractor. My 2 field tractors are both old 2 wheel drive no loaders. I can't see how you could hay even 100 acres with 1 tractor.

    HP is dependant on what you have for equipment. I have old equipment that doesn't require large HP and that works well for us. I agree though, you may be able to find a used 60 to 100 hp tractor real reasonable.
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  5. #5
    Elite Member Ken45101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    southern Ohio
    Kubota M5040, M9540, B21 TLB, B2710, RTV900, JD 325 Skid steer, KX-121-3 mini excavator

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    I agree that you will need something big for haying operations. You need a lot of weight to control the weight behind you, especially on hills. I think you are unlikely to find a hydrostatic transmission tractor big enough to make hay with.

    If you are serious about hay, you will have to renovate the pastures and that probably isn't a job for a small compact tractor.

    Bush hogging large acreage is a slow, slow job with a small tractor. By the time you get done, it will be time to start over Actually, a bush hog can do a very good job vs. a finish mower, the biggest issue, IMO, is the heavier tractor with ag tires tearing up the lawn.... But from a 100' away, you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference as to whether a finish mower or bush hog was used.

    That's another issue: tires. You will want turf tires for a nice lawn, but you will need ag tires for the field work.


  6. #6
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    somewhere usa
    Deere 110tlb, 4520, x749, L130

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    Chris, welcome to TBN and congrats on the new farm.

    I would think yu will be better off with the smaller tractor first for several reasons. Fences to build, gates to install, lots and corrals, smoothing drives and trails can all be done with a 50 hp utility tractor. I would get it with a hydro transmission and fel. This should be about right for your wife's plan and be large enough to aid you in the larger areas too.

    Hay on a large scale will require a large investment of funds and I think I would go slow here and get a better handle of the costs associated with it. From scratch you need two tractors for this and cutting and baling equipment is also costly. If the equipment breaks down you need a backup plan ( more equipment and tractors).

    What i would recomend is to spend the time and money to fence and renovate the pastures, runs some cows and pick out a hayfield to work on a share basis. I would only cut enough to provide the share hay you need for your animals and the custom baler. I would keep this hay field size as just a portion of the available land. The balance of the property (and in rotation) I would renovate the pastures and improve the grasses over time. You can do this with an older 70-100 hp tractor with implements. A breakdown here may slow you down but won't be as critical as having it happen when hay work needs to be done.

    I think you will find plenty of work to do without getting involved in a large hay operation. Personally I prefer the improving and enhancing fields more than growing hay and is less stressfull. Growing hay to be hauled off also depletes the soil and should be considered too.

    I would consider coming up with a 10 year plan of sorts adjusted to the amount of time you have available to work, funds for improvements, and goals. I would not jump into this too fast, rather take your time and make sure you like it first.

  7. #7
    Super Star Member TripleR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Kubota M8540HDC, L5740HSTC, BX2200, BX2660, John Deere 425&1025R, Case, Massey Ferguson, Ford

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    What they said. I have farmed and won't say it "can't" be done, I just sure wouldn't want to put in the hours it would take; been there done that.

    You might want to check with TexasJohn as he has similar acreage, runs cattle and such. He uses an L5030.
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  8. #8
    Super Member dodge man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    West central Illinois
    Kubota BX2350

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    I've never farmed, but I live in the middle of farm country, and my in-laws farm, and yes, most all of them have 2 pretty good sized tractors for hay. Usually and older one that runs the conditioner and sometime the mower, and then another one that runs the baler. It also takes a pretty good sized tractor to move the bales around. I've watched the farmer across the road from me cut the hay every year and its quite an operation. Its maybe 80-100 acres of hay, and it takes several days to get the job done, and then a few weeks after he cuts it, he turns around and does it again. Several cuttings ever year. I'm guessing you could do all this with one tractor pretty easy, I think most of them use two because they have at least two or 3 tractors around anyway.

    As far as what you want around the house, I'd think your wife would want a smaller CUT, 30 h.p. in size. With some kind of finish mower.

    Good luck with the new place.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member RPW's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    Can't agree more with the previous posts. I'd be willing to bet that you will end up with at least three tractors. I also seriously doubt that you will find a hydro on a larger tractor howerver that doesn't preclude your wife from operating a geared tractor. Unlike a vehicle you don't shift on the fly with a tractor. Select range, select gear and that's pretty much where you'll stay. With the newer tractors the clutch is pretty easy to operate. Your attention will be more on the implements than on the gears. I also strongly agree that unless you already have knowledge and experience in farming you should start small. Maybe 10 to 50 acres to get the hands on needed for the larger acreage. I wouldn't even worry about hogging the rest for a few years as if the land has already been worked then bringing it into production won't be much and can most likely be ready within a year. This will also give you time to create and build your business connections for selling your hay and other crops. Go slow and build a solid foundation. In the long run you'll be happier.
    2008 JD 5103, FEL, 6' Frontier, 6' HD boxblade, 7' Landscape rake, More impliments to come, Bobcat (clark) 742 SS.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member ModMech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Canton, TX
    Kubota B2410

    Default Re: One size fits all?

    I'd say you will end up with two tractors, one true "AG" type tractor and another CUT/UT for around the home and lighter chores.

    New Holland, Deere, kubota and Mahindra all offer a good selection of 45-60 HP CUT/UT models that *could* fit a "one tractor" theory. You'll be on the upper end of that HP range.

    I'm in a smilar situation but already own a B2410 (24 HP Kubota CUT) so it's two tractors for me. I will put a FEL on the Kubota and use the AG tractor for our Hay operation and the more serious ground engaging work (GEW). I'm looking at 60-120 HP tractors, all used, for the AG work. You can "easily" do hay with older equipment and tractors in the 35-50 HP range but weight and gears are a consideration. The old "8N" won't get it done, well it will but maddeningly slowly. For those of us who are part-time farmers, we need euipment larger and faster than the 8Ns.

    If I were starting from scratch, at our current place, I would get a ZTR for mowing and a 45-60 HP modern tractor for the AG work w/FEL etc.
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