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  1. #1
    Silver Member
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    Mar 2013
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    110
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Tractor
    New Holland TC45DA

    Default Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    Hello everyone, my first post here.

    I'm shopping for a tractor / equipment to handle a 15 acre horse property. I have attached an aerial of the plot with the areas currently pasture fenced (blue) and future pastures (light blue). I expect to do these chores with the following order of time spent:
    1) Mowing perimeters and yards (weekly), 5 acres total.
    2) Mowing pastures (monthly), 5 acres total.
    3) Dragging indoor and outdoor riding areas.
    4) Moving manure.
    5) Moving hay bales and other consumables from storage building to barn.
    6) Plowing driveway in winter. We get some winter weather here in PA but most years the largest snowstorm leaves less than a foot. Snow is wet and heavy as often as it is powdery.
    7) Spraying the pastures, aerating, and fertilizing activities maybe.
    (Fence posts will be driven professionally, excavations will be subbed, and I have no intent to harvest wood in the wooded section)

    This is where you come in. I have no experience with this stuff except for a couple of times dragging a riding arena using someone else's rig. I'm a mechanical engineer so while I pick up this stuff quickly, I don't know things I've never been exposed to. If things go well I'll need a tractor by mid-May so I'm using the meantime to do my homework. My current lawn equipment boils down to a small push mower and a light duty weed-eater, ha. I foresee buying at least a 20hp 4WD compact tractor with quick attach loader.

    Major questions:
    1) Would you try and mow this property using a tractor implement, or a commercial (zero-turn style) mower? Two clarifications here: the existing turf is not very bumpy and I'm willing to aerate and roll it annually to maintain that, and I believe in keeping pasture grass no higher than 6-7" and mowing down to 4-5". So the question is whether I should consider a separate mower.
    2) What kind of tires make the most sense if the ground is generally smooth, no rocks, and areas of the turf can be wet at times?
    3) If we wanted to buy and handle large square hay bales, how would I decide if a tractor that is safe to move and stack them? Large squares run 800lb on average, and for horse feeding I really don't expect to buy oversized and heavy bales.
    4) Following question 3, if I get a bale spear for the FEL, is the 500mm/full height lift capacity (say, 1100# for a Boomer 30) something that won't tip over the tractor?

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

    Dave

    -farm-layout-jpg
    Last edited by dgeesaman; 03-13-2013 at 07:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Member
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    Feb 2008
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    9,393
    Location
    somewhere usa
    Tractor
    Deere 110tlb, 4520, x749, L130

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    I would look at a Deere 3032E for your list of jobs and other brands with a similar size. I would suggest you look at a rear finish mower about 6' wide, a similar sized arena rake and a rearblade.

    Check out this rake built by one of out members on TBN the Jake Rake.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member kiotiken's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
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    2,270
    Location
    Dunrobin, Ont
    Tractor
    2012 Kioti DK45 HST Cab

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    Quote Originally Posted by jenkinsph View Post
    I would look at a Deere 3032E for your list of jobs and other brands with a similar size. I would suggest you look at a rear finish mower about 6' wide, a similar sized arena rake and a rearblade.

    Check out this rake built by one of out members on TBN the Jake Rake.
    I disagree, the 3032E is a very light tractor, maybe some of the 3X20 or 4X20. 800lbs way out front of the pivot points is a lot more than 800lbs near the bucket especially if you're stacking them near full lift height. I'd look at a kubota L4240, Kioti DK40, LS of similar size (approx 40-45hp). I'd go with a simple big box store lawn tractor for the grass, maybe a ZTR, but .5 acres isn't much grass. I cut 3 acres in a little more than an hour with a Ferris IS3000 ZTR. You won't find a tractor light enough to mow over your septic field and big and heavy enough to move the bails.

  4. #4
    Super Member 94BULLITT's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    7,596
    Location
    Frederick County, VA
    Tractor
    Kubota BX2360 & L4240 HSTC

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    Welcome to the forum.

    I would look at a kubota L3200, 3800 or a L3540 or 3940, size depends on budget. A John Deere 3520 would also be another option. I think you would want to get a tractor with a removable loader to make mowing easier. I also agree that a 6' finish mower would be good. You may want to get a rotary cutter to mow the pasture with if it is rough. If you are on fairly level ground and have the tractor properly ballasted it will handle a round bale. I prefer a R4 tire you have decent traction and it is not too harmful to the turf. If you have room in your budget a cab is nice to have.

  5. #5
    Super Member 94BULLITT's Avatar
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    Frederick County, VA
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    Kubota BX2360 & L4240 HSTC

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    I may have read wrong. Are you mowing 1/2 a acre or 5 acres?

  6. #6
    Bronze Member
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    Jan 2012
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    81
    Location
    Mountaindale, Oregon
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    Allis Chalmers ACD19, ACG; Kubota BX2200 FEL, B2710 FEL, L355SS FEL; Cat D47U, Ford 4600SU FEL

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    Five acres to mow.

  7. #7
    Elite Member
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    May 2012
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Bobcat CT225

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    I don't own a zero-turn, so take this with a grain of salt, but I have read many other similar threads here on TBN, and my impression is that, if you're going to do 5 acres of mowing a week, and another 5 acres once a month, you should consider a zero-turn. A zero turn is capable of delivering a quality cut at a much faster ground speed than a mower on a tractor. If you do the math, I think you'll find that you need a pretty big finish mower on a tractor to make up the difference in mowing speed with a zero-turn. Also, if you have perimeters to mow, a zero turn's additional maneuverability is going to make a big difference. If you had un-cleared pasture that might require a bush-hog, or if you said the ground was pretty rough and had lots of rocks and ditches or whatever, then I might say the tractor is the right choice, but for what you've got, I think you should be looking at a dedicated mower.

    However, if you're willing to put in the seat-time, you can come out ahead money-wise by using a rear finish mower on your tractor. An RFM will come in around $1-2k, and will rely on your tractor's engine to run it. You'll have a hard time finding a zero-turn that will be as reliable and long-lived as your tractor, for $1-2k. But do the math! At 3 mph, you can do about 1.6 acres per hour with a 5' mower. So that's about 3-4 hours of mowing you're going to be doing--a week! Even a 6' mower only gets you down to 2.5-3 hours. On the other hand, according to the Internet, a zero-turn will do closer to 3-5 acres an hour, depending on field conditions. That's a big difference.

  8. #8
    Super Member 94BULLITT's Avatar
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    Frederick County, VA
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    Kubota BX2360 & L4240 HSTC

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    A zero turn will be $4k minimum more than a finish mower. Now you will have 2 machines to maintain instead of one. You are going to have to have some smooth ground to make the time the zero manufacturers claim.

  9. #9
    Elite Member
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Bobcat CT225

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    As for tire type, if I was mowing as much as you, I would lean towards a turf tire. I have R4's, and when the ground is wet, they will tear it up very easily. Not as bad as an ag tire, which will leave track marks everywhere, but still bad enough that I wouldn't want to be committed to running them all over my place all summer when it needs to be mowed. R4's are going to be better than turf for loader use, but it sounds like your mowing is more your primary application than loader use.

  10. #10
    Gold Member amaxwell's Avatar
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    tennessee
    Tractor
    Cub Cadet-Yanmar ex450 -Ford 1300-Mahindra 2415

    Default Re: Compact Tractor shopping - some questions

    :QUOTE=kiotiken;3230647]I disagree, the 3032E is a very light tractor, maybe some of the 3X20 or 4X20. 800lbs way out front of the pivot points is a lot more than 800lbs near the bucket especially if you're stacking them near full lift height. I'd look at a kubota L4240, Kioti DK40, LS of similar size (approx 40-45hp). I'd go with a simple big box store lawn tractor for the grass, maybe a ZTR, but .5 acres isn't much grass. I cut 3 acres in a little more than an hour with a Ferris IS3000 ZTR. You won't find a tractor light enough to mow over your septic field and big and heavy enough to move the bails.[/QUOTE]

    I agree with this post except for the lawn tractor,if you can swing the cost go for a 40-45hp tractor and a ztr, even if you have to go with gently used on both.

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