View Full Version : Compact and subcompact tractor thoughts?

Jul. 30, 2010, 03:20 PM
Just got in from doing some mowing around the property and still have some tractor work to do. (now that the weather is nice!)

The last year or so I've been noticing there are more and more things I can't do with either my current ride-on mower or my tractor.
Now both are decent machines...my mower is getting old (11-12 years) and since moving here the poor thing gets beat up annually due to us not having the flat smooth simple suburban yard. It's an old Troy Bilt, downside to it is that crap is really starting to go and if I wanted to fix everything that needs fixing now or soon I'd be approaching the cost of a new (but cheap) ride on mower. Plus who ever designed the Troy Bilt needs a slap in the head due to the only way to get to the engine for spark plug replacement or anything else is removing both freaking sides of the engine case, 6 screws each. Morons.

The tractor is a *great* tractor. New Holland tc33da. All the right bells and whistles (HST, 4wd, etc). Problem with the tractor is, while not being considered a big tractor, it's still large enough to be useless on much of my property. And some of the good features of this size tractor aren't useful to me, in 6 years I've never once had to lift more than 500 or so lbs with the front loader so having a 1200 lift capacity isn't a benefit for me. The front end is quick attach capable, but that means I *have* to buy quick attach attachments...which you rarely find used and brand new are ridiculously priced.

My property is 4.5 acres of very rolling, often hilly, actual ledge cliffs, the majority is still heavily wooded. I have over 1000' feet of driveways, all stone and some portions are steep, most flat. My actual yard also has a few ledge chunks sticking up here and there.

The NH doesn't fit in half the places I'd like to use it, trees are too close, hills too steep, fence posts in the way, etc. I can only knock down my manure pile because I have to go in backwards, the tiny front wheels in the manure pile = instant stuck and need the chains! I don't need to do things like auger holes, backhoe/dig holes, etc. Mainly I manage the manure pile, move stuff around (never tons of heavy stuff), mow, remove leaves, rake the dirt paddock smooth and remove snow. I do remove smaller trees and stumps mainly by knocking them down and/or shoving them out with the loader.

I'm thinking of eventually rehoming both the mower and the tractor and getting something that can do the job of both and fit where I need it to go and be able to find and afford the attachments for it. I've been looking at the subcompact Deere and NHs, they have loader lift capacity of 600 lbs and a much higher ground clearance than my mower so I can get a mid mount mower and still mow my lawn with it. (without bending the blades on the ledge) I can more easily afford a snow blower attachment for a tractor in the 20-24 hp range than one in the 30s because looking at both the price difference is almost $1000. :eek: I can fit through the woods with it and between the fence line and the woods, etc.

Anyone have a subcompact? Which one? What do they do with it? Any suggestions, comments?

Jul. 30, 2010, 03:46 PM
Check out Kubota - they have a really neat new hitch system that makes putting on implements REALLY easy - no more attacking things with a hammer!

Jul. 30, 2010, 04:05 PM
I think our Kubota L29 is the mini big tractor, so maybe not what you want to know about.

We've had the same issues with trying to find a one size fits all tractor on the semi-rugged farmette- god knows I don't want three pieces of equipment to store and service which is what we wound up with. DH bought himself a BCS walk behind tractor from http://earthtoolsbcs.com/ as this year's big toy, with bushhog/mower, tiller and a dumping cart. This works for us because we have a backhoe on the Kubota and use it a lot, it makes the backhoe that much more efficient and saves dumping into the pickup bed and then shoveling it out. And it's his toy and he likes it.
It's a bit much for mowing the little scrap of lawn over the septic that we kept out of the front horse pasture (yes, they got my lawn, the old guy needs flatter ground and all it was was a converted cow pasture anyway) so we have a cr*ppy high wheel lawnmower, but the orchards that the tractor won't fit it and gag the high wheel are its happy home. As I said, he likes it, the jury is out on my side still.

I'll just say I feel your pain and see whether anyone else has practical experience.

Jul. 30, 2010, 04:18 PM
Thanks equibrit, I'll check those out. Everyone I know around here with a Kubota likes them.

I like the New Hollands, but the dealership near me sucks out loud with service.

And I like Deere but I do NOT like their prices! I don't want to pay 30% more because it's green. :winkgrin: (okay, it's a really good company/tractor too. But it's still overpriced IMO)

*sigh* It is hard finding a single machine that can do everything. Or even most things. My mower isn't going to make one more season unless I sink a buttload into it...and at that age and amount of rust and crap it's just not worth the money to repair it. I go through 3-4 sets of mower blades every single year, no kidding! New England ground spits out rocks for no known reason all the time and hitting them all the time kills blades. Even sheared the spindle right out once! And that's after walking the property first looking for new rocks! :eek:
The mowing deck can't stay in one position anymore and is now crooked too, so right after I mow the yard looks bad. Some passes the mower is plowing dirt, others the left side is 5" tall grass and the right 1" tall grass. :lol:

And we're heavily wooded...the NH rear tires don't fit through the trees on more than 50% of my property. Not useful at all when you can only get to 40-45% of your property in a tractor.

I'm hoping to find out a subcompact will work for me and then I can sell my NH and buy either a new or used smaller mower/tractor. If I get used I should be able to buy most/all the attachments I want too.

Jul. 30, 2010, 04:35 PM
Misty, we have just over 3 acres of varied terrain, with some slopes, some steep, some flat and some brush.
We absolutely adore our tiny JD 2305 with the CX200 front loader on it.

The loader holds about 4 wheelbarrows worth- so about 500 lbs. It turns on a dime and gives change. It has 4WD. power take off to run other stuff is we want. We filled the tyres with fluid, so its pretty stable on the slopes. You can get brush hog, mower, and other attachments for it.

They are not really expensive either. You can pick them up slightly used for under $15 K Canuck, so maybe under 12K US? New they are around $18K Canuck, with the loader and lights and ROPS. OOOPS- I just found them on line for around 11K brand new!!!

Very very easy to drive, has to be because I am so NOT mechanically minded or good with machines, but this one took me 5 minutes to learn how to drive- I am still working on advanced skills like grading the driveway or levelling the sand in the ring, but it does everything we need on our small farm. Service from the dealer has been absolutely superb- we had 2 tractors before this and the dealer helped us get this one when we encountered problems with the others, and gave us more than fair trade in.

The neighbour who has a slightly larger Kubota, is trading his in on a JD due to problems in getting parts and service for his Kubota and lack of relaibility after it was 6 years old.


Jul. 30, 2010, 05:25 PM
Misty, I've got 5 flat acres and a few yrs ago saw and bought a Massey Ferguson 23 hp subcompact 4 WD with a snow blower attachment, an enclosed cab, and a front end loader for spring summer and fall. I do have the guys come and change the attachments for me in spring and fall from loader to snow blower but it's pretty good for my needs.

I also have a Wheel Horse riding mower for regular lawn, and until this summer, used it for the pastures as well. I did just buy a Ferris ZTM for the fields and love it. I also use the Wheel Horse for dragging the rings and breaking up manure in the pastures with a small york rake.

I don't think you can adequately replace both your tractor and mower with one piece of equipment. If you're on steep land, you will want 4 WD and ag tires, but you don't want to mow your lawn around the house with a tractor with the ag tires or you'll really dig it up when it's wet. :eek: JMHO

Jul. 30, 2010, 05:35 PM
Cat, I was just looking online at those too. Prices all over for new and used, so will have to go out and actually look.
That's my worry about the Kubota too, being able to find parts. There is a dealership not far from here though. I have noticed dealership prices for parts are high, but the Carquest near me will special order anything I need even for tractors and they're usually about 25% less than dealership prices.

msj...that's the problem. Tires. Turf tires are great for the lawn, but I don't want to slide all over hell and creation in winter and I need traction on the hills and in the woods. I could always add chains...feh, no easy way to figure that one out.

I'd hate to replace both mower (which needs replacing anyways no matter what) and tractor. Getting two new ones doesn't make any financial sense. I just paid off the tractor about 8 months ago.

I also don't have a garage and will need to get some sort of shelter for the machines too. *sigh* Every time you turn around on a farm, no matter how small the farm is, you need to spend money and/or build something.

Jul. 30, 2010, 05:47 PM
Misty, go talk to your tractor dealer to see if he has something smaller that will fit your needs better. Your slightly larger tractor might sell really fast and give you enough $ left over to not only buy the smaller version of tractor with Ag tires and buy a new or new to you mower. Heck, if the mower will last a couple more years, hang on to it. My first mower was a used Wheel Horse and I beat the daylights out of it for 11-12 yrs and then bought the new one because the old one held up well. This spring when the Wheel Horse had to go in to the shop twice in 5 wks was when I bought the Ferris ZTM from the same people that I bought my MFerguson tractor because the service was fantastic. With 5 acres to mow I can't be without a serviceable mower. Now I have a backup.

Like I said, you don't want the Ag tires on your lawn anymore than you want turf tires for the hills, winter or wet.

Jul. 30, 2010, 06:05 PM
We have 3.5 acres and a year ago we bought a JD 2320 w/ a front end loader and bucket. We bought an auger last month to use this fall for replacing fence. Oh my gosh, the things I've been able to do by myself is amazing, the things hubba and I can do together is even better! Our gravel driveway has never been maintained better, I've built berms from my manure pile, the horse lots are a snap to clean out and I can keep my unimproved riding ring at least "decent". It is the best $$ we've spent here after 16 years.

It fits in the nook and cranny places of our lil place, has the lift and shove power of more than 6 "next door neighbor" big guys and it is chic friendly to operate. We went with new since we've never owned a tractor before and figured we wanted to start out with everything working. Plus, the JD's hold their value should we ever want to sell it. Not much different than a horse trailer- better brands have resale value.

Lots of folks have Kubotas out here, we went with JD because there is a large dealership in town which has an excellent reputation for sales AND service.

Jul. 30, 2010, 06:40 PM
In a pinch you can get a $300 plastic garage to fit over your small tractor. That's what we did at first. Then, we built a small shed for ours out of 2 x 4 and siding with a concrete floor, for under $600.

We also bought chains for the turf tires and they are DA BOMB for plowing snow. We also use the chains in muddy or slippery conditions in fall and spring.

The front end loader we got is actually fairly simple to take on and off and does not require any special tools.

And yeah, they do hold their value- the reconditioned ones at the dealer that have a couple of years on them are only a couple of thousand cheaper than new.

Aug. 1, 2010, 10:36 AM
Okay...holy o'crap I went and looked at a small frame JD yesterday.

This one was a 2720, ver small in size/small frame but it surprisingly has a little over 31 hp! :eek: (my NH is the largest of the mid frames and has 33 hp) The base price...base mind you...is $17,600!!!! :eek: :eek: :eek:

The base price on mine was $13,800 IIRC in 2005. Out the door it was $20k and change.

The small frame JD with the same attachments as my tractor would be be $25,755.


The 2320 (which has 24 hp I think) is the same size and almost all the same stats (same lift capacity, wb, length, width, etc) and a few lbs less in curb weight starts at $13,339.

The little cab that goes on the little tractor is a $3600 option.

Le sigh. :sigh:

Guess if I do go for a small frame JD instead of my mid frame NH I'll be looking for a used most definitely. Even then the price difference will be significant most likely. I just can't justify a $5k price difference for less size, power, strength and attachment abilities. :no:

I'll look at other brands both new and lightly used too most likely. JDs are great tractors and it would be nice to have one, but the prices...sheesh!

Does anyone know of a site online where I can get an estimate on used tractor worth? Something like a tractor Kelly Blue book? I've looked them up online for sale used, but hard to guestimate that way because most of the sites that come up are midwest and I'm not so sure the prices would be the same here in New England.

Because the prices for the same tractors new at dealerships in the midwest are lower than new prices here. Also used sale sites seem to have some really optimistic people on there. I've seen my same tractor/same year with very similar attachments and same condition advertised for anywhere from $10k to $18k. Considering mine new was $20k and had 800 less hours or so on it than those around $18k I'm thinking those sellers are smoking something pretty potent asking those prices.

Aug. 1, 2010, 10:44 AM
If you dig around a bit on these (http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/) forums you can usually find the SP on any tractor and any issues they may have.

Aug. 1, 2010, 10:53 AM
At the small farm I manage, we have a Bobcat compact tractor. Lovelovelove it. I heard they aren't making them anymore but I could be wrong? Perfect size for a small farm and a total workhorse I've found so far. Very easy to drive as well. However we don't have snow or ice so I can't comment on its usefulness there.

Aug. 4, 2010, 01:01 PM
Hey MistyBlue, how far away are you? I'm in SE Michigan and need a tractor! Am looking for a Kubota, but have done a bit of checking out the NH. I probably will have to buy new for financing reasons, and possibly not till next spring, but let me know what you decide. :D
I agree with you in the JD prices - love 'em, but can't pay the green premium.

Aug. 4, 2010, 01:36 PM
......... DH bought himself a BCS walk behind tractor from http://earthtoolsbcs.com/ as this year's big toy, with bushhog/mower, tiller and a dumping cart. .......

oh my, those little miniature hay bales are so cute

Aug. 4, 2010, 02:56 PM
Anchodavis, I'm in CT.

I stopped by a dealer that does Kubota and Deere and they'll keep a lookout for used smaller ones for me.

Think anyone would consider a trade? A bigger tractor for a smaller one? They seem to be the same prices regardless of the size difference.

Aug. 4, 2010, 05:38 PM
Misty, It doesn't hurt to ask. In the meantime I'd advertise your tractor in as many places as you can and hope to get as much out of it, and preferably even a bit more, to pay for the new little one.

BUT, see if you can rent the little one for a day or so just to make sure it will do as much as you need it to do. It probably won't have the power you're used to and it might take a bit of maneuvering and more time for what you need it to do. Obviously you can't blow snow with it right now, but you can see if you can work your manure pile and a lot of other things as well.

I'm spoiled in that the MF/Cat dealer by me is managed by good friends and they also do rentals, which I haven't needed yet but fully expect to in the future at some point. :)

Aug. 4, 2010, 06:11 PM
Think anyone would consider a trade? A bigger tractor for a smaller one? They seem to be the same prices regardless of the size difference.

I always trade mine - I don't see why they wouldn't, as they can sell your trade-in, but don't expect top dollar for it. Kubota might have their 60 month 0% deal still going.
Check out the tractorbynet site for your trade.

Aug. 4, 2010, 08:06 PM
msj, not a bad idea to rent one for a day or two first.

I honestly don't use my tractor all that much, there are times I go out and drive it around a bit just to have it run instead of sit.

The size doesn't always work on my property. About the only time I've needed the power of this tractor was the one time Mr Blue buried my F250 past both front axels in mud. Since then Mr Blue is banned from driving my truck on the property, only on paved roads, LOL!

Other than that, I use it for mainly light work. Raking paddock, raking driveways, snow removal, knocking down or turning manure pile. There are a lot of things I'd like to do with it but can't because it won't fit where I need it to go in the woods or around the barn/fences.

My brother works at HO Penn Cat, he's the head mechanic and does training. You'd *think* I'd be able to get a Cat, huh? :winkgrin: All they have are the huge ones there though.

Equibrit, didn't realize trading tractors was so popular. It would be ideal if I could do an even swap...I'd really hate to have tractor payments again after just paying this one off. Plus I just have a hard time paying more for a tractor half the size of the one I already have.

Aug. 4, 2010, 09:01 PM
Misty, you come down here to Rochester and I'll introduce you to my Massey Ferguson and Catapiller dealer. They are wonderful! They will take your tractor in trade and sell you a cute little bugger like I have and even deliver it to you! I know they've sold equipment to Saudi Arabia and shipped it! :yes:

I don't use mine that much either but when I do need it, I'm glad to have it! :)

Aug. 4, 2010, 10:28 PM
I have a Kubota B7610 with a mid-mount mower and FEL that has a 500lb capacity. It does everything I need it to on our small place - moving manure pile, dragging ring, mowing paddocks and plowing snow.

The only thing I would add to what others have said is that my mower deck is not any more usable than the ride-on lawn mower I have. The deck does not raise any higher - 4 inches is the max. And the guide wheels really have no clearance. We have lots of rock, too, and you can get the mower deck stuck easily.

I rarely leave the deck on since it's a pain to drive the tractor with it attached - guide wheels dig in to anything soft like the gravel driveway. The mower deck is also wider than the tractor by a foot or two I think, so just because the tractor fits somewhere doesn't mean the deck will. Basically the mower deck is useful for larger paddocks that would take a while with a narrower lawn mower.

Of course different brands might not have the same issues. I never researched others as we got this tractor used and it came with the deck. Tractorbynet is a really useful site if you have detailed tractor questions, too. I'm in SW CT if you want to come play on mine to see what it's like. :)

Aug. 4, 2010, 10:33 PM
Sue, got any photos of your cute little bugger?

My brother is always razzing me for not having a Cat. I always razz him back for being a major Cat man and not able to GET ME A CAT! :lol:

He just finished some work on a Cat dump truck, you can park 9 full sized cars in the bed of that thing!

Although I know on the HO Penn lot they have smaller stuff, but I don't think they sell that there.

I'd like to get something American made, much easier to get parts for and for me to do whatever needs to be done to it/with it. Foreign stuff is all mucked up once you get under the hood IMO. But then I'm not exactly a stellar mechanic, LOL!

The good thing is if I ever need a big tractor for again for something here on the farmette, I can either borrow my neighbor to the east's New Holland since she has the exact same one I do or else I can borrow my neighbor to the south's giant Case. Like if I need to pick up the truck and throw it. :eek: :D :lol: (the Case is huge)

I'd just really like something I can use more often and do anything on. Like even picking the paddock with it and then dumping that in the manure pile. My New Holland is just too big and bulky (despite not being a large frame) for small every day stuff like that. It makes more sense to me to have one vehicle I can do almost anything/everything with instead of replacing the lawn mower for $1200 or so in the next year having a big tractor I barely use when I have a ton of small odd jobs needing to be done my tractor can't do and a new lawn mower definitely can't do.

I'm going to join that tractorbynet after I come back from the vacation from hell I'm getting dragged off to next week and see if I can get more info/ideas.

Aug. 4, 2010, 10:36 PM
Besthorses...we must have been posting at the same time.

Having the wider mowing deck is a worry too. I'm not sure it won't end up being too wide to mow my actual lawn with. Although it does seem they aren't too much of a pain to take on and off.

Aug. 4, 2010, 10:52 PM
Well, I don't take it off - Mr. BH does! :winkgrin: Takes him about 15 mins. But then you need space to store it - and it takes up quite a bit of floor space - think 5 by 3 ft.

Aug. 4, 2010, 10:53 PM
PS. The smaller JD's are made by Yanmar.

This is quite a useful site too; http://tractors.i75cars.com/

Mower decks on a tractor are the worst idea - they make the tractor useless for anything else and taking them off and on is a real pain in the butt. Hitch attached mowers are the way to go.

Aug. 5, 2010, 08:49 AM
Misty, here's a pic from my dealer's website of the little bugger with a back hoe attachment. Compare the size of the man to the tire size and you can see it's really very small and compact, or should I say sub compact. :) Be sure to check out the spec sheet.

Honestly, there are times I just go out and pat the hood like you'd pat a little dog it's so darn cute. :lol: To be honest, it almost looks like a toy tractor but so far it's done what I needed it to do. Now, I've never put an auger on to do post holes as I hire fence repair out.

I bought it essentially new (it had 32 hrs on it) in 2007 I think, with the snowblower attachment, an enclosed cab (heavy plastic velcro'd to the frame and removable and very necessary when blowing snow), and a bucket. I later had them put a step up onto it on both sides and I believe I paid ~ $16K and that included sales tax.

Now, keep in mind I'm very good friends with the store manager and his wife as I've taken 2 of her horses as companion horses over several yrs and we've ridden together thru the winter for several yrs as well so they may very well have given me a good deal.


Aug. 5, 2010, 11:24 AM
Haven't read the whole thread, but if you are a USEF member you can get up to 23% off on John Deere.

Aug. 14, 2010, 11:21 PM
Haven't read the whole thread, but if you are a USEF member you can get up to 23% off on John Deere.

Checked in on this thread as I am trying to figure out if a scut is going to be worth the monthly payment on my 5 acres. Found this same discount with my dealer and it extends to the front end loader and mower deck. Really helped to level the price out with the Kubotas. The discount is also available to AQHA and APHA members along with a bunch of other American based horse associations.