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  1. #1
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    Default 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Hello. I'm comparing utility and larger compact tractors to purchase, planning to buy new from one of the major brands. The tractor will be used on a 20 acre horse farm in lower Michigan. We have 2 horses right now, and don't expect more than 4 at most. We currently have 2 acres in pasture and 4 in hay, but we are planning to improve that to 4+ acres in pasture and 7+ in hay during the next year. Our land has about 2.5 acres in woods and the balance is used for various other things (house, horse barn, future pole barn for equipment, 1500' driveway, wasted land due to prior owners having too much love for lawns). The land is gently sloping; there are no steep slopes that we would attempt to drive on. The land is generally well drained and not muddy, although not right now with our mild and wet winter so far.

    I have limited tractor experience but am familiar with operating many other kinds of machinery (cars, trucks, motorcycles, airplanes). My wife has worked on several dairy farms and is used to driving LARGE farm tractors (200+ hp) and skid loaders. Both of us strongly prefer a manual shift, not a hydostatic.

    Let me start by outling what I intend to do, in rough order of frequency:

    Brush hogging: mowing grass every 4-6 weeks during spring/summer/early fall, mowing pastures as needed. Grass will range from 8" to maybe 3 feet at mowing. There should be few if any saplings and definitely no trees over 1" diameter. I think this is very light duty brush hogging. We would like to get a 6' brush hog (a 7' would be tight in some areas, and anything less than 6' seems like a slow way to mow).

    Dragging pastures: dragging all our pastures with a chain link harrow fairly frequently, maybe once a month. We'll probably be getting an 8' wide drag, hopefully a 3PH version.

    Box blade: using a box blade to maintain our 1500' gravel driveway, spread new gravel, and do some regrading around the barn. It may also get used for clearing and leveling the site for our new pole barn. There are many places where regrading would be a good idea, and I suspect the box blade will get a lot of use. Looking at a 6' box blade, and probably a medium duty version with swinging rear edge.

    FEL: we will probably want to use a FEL to do some digging and a lot of moving material of various weights. In particular we have a number of large rock piles (one is roughly 40 feet across and 8-9 feet high, which I'm estimating as over 50 tons of rock) that we would like to move, possibly on the property or possibly into trucks to sell them. Our FEL work will probably not be as repetitive as what many do with an FEL, and everything we're looking at has shuttle shift.

    Straight rear blade: I would probably occasionally use a straight 6' or 7' rear blade for regrading that can't be done well with the box blade. I expect this will be only 1-3 times a year, though I may be off.

    Round bales: we want the ability to use round bales, although we aren't currently using them (we are using square bales). We would prefer to have FEL capacity to move round bales and that is one of the biggest things pushing me toward a utility tractor vs. a large compact. However, I would consider moving them with a spear on the 3PH, depending on comments I get here. I do not know the size or weight of round bales that we would use, so I am assuming bales up to 1200 lbs, plus a safety factor for wet bales.

    Post hole digger: we may want to drill post holes. A relative has a post hole digger for his JD 4310 that we are able to borrow.

    Manure handling: we are hoping that dragging the pastures will be sufficient to disperse manure from 2 horses, but if not we will pick up manure (likely using FEL) either to compost it or spread with a small manure spreader. We are not planning to get a manure spreader if we don't need to; however, if we do need one, we would prefer a PTO powered spreader because relatives have told us that ground-drive spreaders don't work well, especially on wet grass and mud in spring.


    We are NOT currently planning:

    A backhoe. While I'd love to have one, I don't see that I'll need one for anything.

    Hay tools. We would love to do our own hay, but the cost of good hay equipment seems to be far too high to justify buying it for 7 acres of hay. We are planning to get a local farmer to cut and bale our hay, as the prior owners did.


    So, with those uses in mind I see two things: many of these tasks could be done reasonably with a compact tractor. However, the FEL work - both moving round bales and moving rocks and soil - is driving me towards something with upwards of 1800lbs of FEL lift. Also, some threads here have suggested that 40 PTO hp is needed to run a 6' brush hog at a reasonable speed, so that is also a consideration. My wife and I both work full time and tractor chores use up weekend time and compete with other fun stuff, so we don't want something small that will make things go slow. At the same time, we don't want some monster tractor that is far too big and costs far too much.

    The tractors I'm currently looking at (all in FWD version) are:

    kubota MX5000DT (FWD): this seems to be about the right size, with plenty of hp and adequate FEL strength (LA852) for our purposes. I've driven the 2wd version and thought it was ok, but pretty basic. I have a quote of $23,300 with FEL and quick-attach from the local dealer.

    Kubota M5040: this is probably a bit bigger than we need, but doesn't cost much more than the MX5000 (quote of $25,728 with FEL) and seems to be considerably fancier in good ways. I'm particularly noting that the base price includes a skid-steer type quick-attach on the loader and one rear remote valve, along with some built in features in the hitch and drivetrain systems. This would be my preference, but the price difference would pay for two implements for the MX5000.

    John Deere 4120/4320/4520: these seem to have the power and FEL capacity but are priced a bit higher (quote of $25,000 for the 4120, which I'm not sure has enough hp; seems to jump about $1800 for each hp increment) and I'm put off by their rather short wheelbase (71.5") when compared to their weight and hp. I am leaning against a JD based on price and short wheelbase, but I haven't ruled it out. (I think the JD 5105 is too big and too pricey for my needs.)

    New Holland TC48 and TC55, or International DX48/DX55: I haven't seen these in person, but they look good from brochures and are about the right size, I think. I have a quote of $26,350 on a TC55 with FEL. At that price I would take the Kubota M5040. However, I don't have a quote on the TC48 and if it's less by at least $1500, I would consider it.

    International JX55: This was suggested by the International dealer instead of the DX48 or DX55, which he thought were too small for handling bales. I like the looks of the JX55 but I think it's physically too big (length, wheelbase, weight), and I don't have a price on one.

    Kubota L4400: this seems like it would be adequate for everything but the FEL work, and seems not to have the lift we want/need for that. I have an estimate of $20,400 for an L4400 with FEL.

    I've looked at and driven the Kubota L5030 but do not like the HST. Local Kubota dealer doesn't have it with GST and says everyone buys them with HST. I would consider an L30 or L40 series if I could get one with FST. I have looked at the New Holland TC40/TC45 tractors but have some reservations about the amount of plastic and the tall height/short wheelbase design.

    Since someone will ask, I've measured our barn doors and pasture gates and all of the above tractors will fit anywhere (even with ROPS up in the barn) except our hay storage lean-to, and its doors are too narrow for any of these.

    I am planning on R4 tires with any of these and am still debating getting them filled. I would prefer not to fill them, to minimize lawn damage when mowing or doing miscellaneous FEL chores. When doing heavy FEL work (rocks or bales) I would plan to use a heavy weight on 3PH (either the box blade or possibly a ballast box loaded to 1000lbs).

    The quality of the dealer is important. I have had good shopping experiences at the local JD and Kubota/New Holland (same place) dealers. I had a neutral experience at the International dealer. All are about the same distance from me, only 10 miles or so. I do not have nearby dealers for Massey-Ferguson, Mahindra, Kioti, or almost any other brand, so I'm inclined to stick with one of the first four brands I named. As far as I can tell the prices I've been quoted on JD, Kubota and New Holland are all fairly reasonable but not super cheap.

    I'm asking for all range of comments, but would also like specific comments on the following:

    1) Kubota uses steel fenders while JD and New Holland use plastic. I was initially inclined to prefer steel until I was reminded that they rust. Can anyone comment on how rust-prone Kubotas are and how durable the plastic fenders are? I noted that the JD plastic fenders on the 4120 look much stronger than the TC45 plastic fenders (again, I haven't seen the TC48/55 in person).

    2) Am I accurate in my thoughts on handling round bales? If anyone has experience with moving round bales on a 3 PH bale spear with a smaller tractor, could they comment on how easy/difficult it is?

    3) The Kubota MX5000 and L4400 have painted decks without rubber mats, while all others have rubber mats. Is this a big difference? Does the paint wear through and lead to rusting of the deck, or is the paint really tough?

    4) The JD dealer, although generally very pleasant, made some wild claims about JD tractors putting out 10-15 more hp than their ratings and at the same time claiming Kubotas came in below their ratings when dyno'd. Without starting a green/orange battle, does anyone think there is any truth to this? I'm inclined to think it's just sales puffery.

    5) With the typical low, front exhausts on CUTs, how much of the diesel fumes do you breathe? I have asthma and want to minimize my exposure to the exhaust. The M5040 and JX55 have vertical exhaust stacks that I assume get the fumes totally out of the way.

    6) At what power/size level will I start breaking implements designed for a Class I hitch? I would prefer not to cross that line, and I wonder if the M5040, JX55 and TC55 may be on the edge of requiring Class II type implements. (I believe all of these have hitches that can accomodate both classes.)

    7) How much PTO hp do I really need for the brush hogging I describe?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Hi,

    You have done your home work!

    I think the L4400 is a little too small for your chores with the round bales. Otherwise it would be about minimum size for your jobs.

    If you get it or the other one without a mat, buy a quart of that roll on bed liner stuff sold at Walmart and other places for about $30 and use it on the work area. Much better traction, and it will keep the metal and paint whole and rust free. On the topic of rust, after 6 years, my kubota fenders have no chips or signs of rust. There is wear thru the color where the diff lock lever is from my work boots, but no rust.

    For your needs, the grand L's with GST would be good. I think your sales guy is pushing HST for $$ and maybe what is on the lot? With that said, the M5040 is about perfect for your chores. Strong enough for round bales, but you will want to get the cast iron centers for the wheels. May have to order them?


    I have an L3410 with front exhaust and an old ford with vertical. Neither is a problem while on the machine. You will get some exhaust from the Kubota when off it around the ex pipe, but honestly the Kubota engines run very clean. It's not like a bus or truck's black exhaust, more like warm air. I get more issues from the grass chaff and dust than exhaust.


    The L5030 HST looses more power to the PTO than the JD according to a JD sympathetic poster. However, it looks to be about what Kubota claims. Certainly not an across the board 10-15hp. That smells like ... fertilizer. The GST is the same at transfering power to the PTO as a gear transmission.

    On implements. There are wildly different quality and durability levels in Cat 1 implements. If you buy the good stuff, you shouldn't have a problem. A 6' wide 450# box blade will twist up like tin foil, where a 1000# one will last for generations. Mostly heavier is better. On the cutter, 35-40 hp is plenty. But, tractor weight is what you need when picking up a long 1000# cutter more so than hp.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    So, you didn't mention money, so I assume that's not an issue.
    Look at the back end of a compact next to a utility.
    The utility is WAYYYYY more heavy duty, for about the same size (only slightly bigger) and about the same cost.

    I don't think it's even a question.
    Compacts are great in that 30 to 40hp range, above that, you are doing real tasks, might as well jump up to a utility.

    NH has some nice utility tractors
    I've got a mechanical shuttle shift on my compact and to be honest I'm much faster on the FEL than my neighbor with his HST. Not because of the drive, but because I"m better on both shifting and the FEL. I wouldn't go HST. Power shuttle however is REALLY cool (and I wish I had it, next tractor will).

    Go small utility, It will do a lot more (although implements will cost more initially) with less breakage at that size. People always wish for a bigger tractor, they rarely wish for a smaller tractor.

    JMHO

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Oh, I know what I forgot to add.
    I pull my chain harrow with the ATV
    much less pressure on the land compacting it, and way faster.
    Works fine.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Thanks, John and Brian.

    Brian - I would prefer to minimize my cost, but I can afford any of the tractors listed and would prefer to just buy what I need/want now to avoid needing to upgrade later. That seems to be very clear from reading here and talking with relatives who own tractors. At the same time, really big tractors would be clumsy on our 20 acres - I'm not sure a JX55 would do a good job of mowing the corners between pasture fence and property line. Basically, if I get the more $$ tractors I will probably be buying only the brush hog, box blade and chain harrow this year (which are basically the essential implements for my immediate tasks). If I get something less $$ I may be able to also buy a straight blade or other toys.

    As far as using the chain drag, how big a drag do you pull with how big an ATV? Might be a good option for us to consider. I should have mentioned that we have a 20hp "lawn tractor" with 42" mower that will be used for finish mowing around the house and possibly along the driveway. We could use that for pulling the drag if the drag isn't too big for its power. On the other hand, I would prefer not to routinely drag the area between our equipment storage and pastures, and having the drag on a 3ph seems like a good way to avoid this.

    Also, which NH do you have and what do you like/dislike about it vs. kubota and JD?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    I have a John Deere 4500 (4WD, loader, and Power Reverser Tranny, shuttle) and perform much of the same tasks you will be performing. The loader specs at 2400lbs, but I don't lift more than 1800lbs and has a 6' bucket, the 3pt has done everything I have wanted with power to spare. The tractor will comfortably handle a 6' bushhog with 33 PTO hp and 37 or so engine HP. I believe this is a "larger frame" CUT. I am not sure what model JD that is today, but it seems to do what I need. Previous posters have mentioned different dealers have different prices, shop around. The New Holland tractors seem to be easier to swing on and off the saddle and seem to be very easy to operate with color coded knobs,etc.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Oleozz's Avatar
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Yes, you have thought things out. Just my opinion on a few items that you mentioned: 1) I would go with the filled tires. I mowed my lawn for seven years using a JD with filled tires and it did no damage. 2) 38-40 PTO hp is plenty to run a 6 ft bush hog. 3) You didn't mention this but I would seriously consider a cab tractor. For 35 years I used tractors without and now have one with, they are great but are an additional expense. 4) I looked at a M5040 with cab on Wednesday, what a beauty and a beast of a tractor. It would do most anything you wanted to use it for and then some.
    Good Luck in your search, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the brands that you mentioned.

  8. #8
    Super Member scott_vt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Mornin Z,
    Welcome to TBN !

    Just wanted to add Massey Ferguson to your list ! I looked at a Massey Ferguson FWD 563 Utility this past weekend and was very impressed with the quality of the machine. Your talking 60+ HP and 55 at the PTO. The CUT is great, and will do all your property chores, but the utility is probablly the way to go if your doing any amount of baling.
    http://www.masseyferguson.com/agco/M..._mainimage.jpg


    Good Luck in your search !
    scotty

    ,,,course,,it is gas,and gas is,,well,gas,,so,,but it kills the @#$$ oughta them yellow jackets,,,thingy

    http://www.tractorbynet.com/content/...onth-scott_vt/

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    You've done a good job defining your needs. I would go with a utility without loading the tires. It doesn't really matter if it's green or orange, they both make good tractors. I have blue and green, and I'm happy with both. As long as you have a good dealer you can get parts for all of the major brands. Personnally I worry more about implements than the color of paint on the tractor. It's job is only to provide power and mobility to my implements and give me a nice place to sit. The implements do all the work.

    Just a couple of things to consider.....Think about getting a hopper spreader to put out fertilizer/lime and to overseed along with a 3pt sprayer. Horses are hard on paddocks and you need to think of yourself as a grass farmer. You might also want to look at a tiller. Horses compact the ground and a chain harrow just breaks up the piles and spreads it a little. I till my paddocks every couple of years to keep the grass happy. Hay is fine for dinner but having grass all of the time makes happy horses.

    You didn't say what you were going to do with the horses. Pasture pets are fine, but if you are doing anything with them you'll need some kind of arena. The tiller is great when the arena is wet to fluff it up so it will dry quicker, but for everyday use, look at a TR3 arena rake. It does a lot more than a box blade.

    My brush hog just takes up space because I use a finish mower for everything. It gives a cleaner cut and doesn't stick out as far behind the tractor.

    Good Luck!

    Mike

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 40-55hp CUT or Utility Tractor for 20 acre horse farm in Michigan

    Wow, I'm really impressed with all the good advice I'm getting here. Thanks!

    Mike - sounds like you know horses. Good point on the 3pt spreader. How much do those cost? We definitely will need to overseed but were planning to use our walk-behind spreader. That could get old if we're doing 4+ acres, I suppose. Not sure how much fertilizer we will be using. We want the horses to eat as much grass as possible for their health and so we don't have to use tons of hay (literally). We actually keep the horses outside 24/7 except when there is really severe weather (they do have a run-in shed in their pasture, so don't feel sorry for them). I had talked with my wife about disking the pastures post-winter but she was very against the idea, not wanting to kill what grass is growing. I doubt she'll be much more in favor of a tiller since it would even more thoroughly kill the existing grass. I would welcome comments though since I have no experience managing pastures. (I may also start a thread in the projects forum on this.)

    The horses are unfortunately pasture pets right now, but my wife has experience training horses and whenever she has free time (?) she will be working on both of them. We have a 60x120 outdoor arena that the prior owners put in; it has a sand footing with no grass growing. My wife also wants a round pen somewhere - not sure what we're going to do on that.

    Tell me more about finish mower vs. brush hog. Can a finish mower cut grass that's up to 2-3 feet tall? As I noted, the mowing won't likely include trees of any size, but the grass and weeds could be pretty tall.

    Scott, the MF tractors look nice, but I don't have a dealer close enough for me to comfortable buying one. I would also be looking seriously at Kioti if their dealer was closer to me. (Actually, with Kioti dealer about 35 miles away, I'm debating whether to still look at them.)

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