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gator vs. small tractor

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  • gator vs. small tractor

    This has been a huge debate for me. I have a tractor with front loader and bush hog on the back. Love it, but i can't use it for dragging the arena as the front loader gets in the way of getting deep into corners. Also, the bush hog is attached 80% of the year and it is a huge PITA to remove so I can't attach a spreader or drag easily. So i want to have a second farm vehicle and am debating between a gator-type-utv or small tractor. The benefits I see of each:

    tractor: has 3-pt hitch for greater attachment options. It would not necessarily have a PTO but at least a 3-pt hitch. Maybe a bit stronger in the engine.

    gator: dump bed in the back for carrying stuff around. could still have attachments but would only be via a ball hitch.

    what I am looking for this vehicle to do: drag arena (right now I only have a harrow but one day hope to upgrade to a "real" drag. pull a ground driven spreader. haul grain/ hay from barn to run-in.

    we don't get a huge amount of snow where I live and the vehicle will mostly be driven on gravel paths so I don't think I need 4WD.

    what would you do?
    Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:

  • #2
    When I had my own farm, I had a gator and it did everything for me. But when I moved to Germany, everything was done by tractor and I even saw someone once use a horse to grate the jump arena.


    • #3
      I LOVE my kawasaki mule! But, like you, I also have a tractor. I don't keep my bush hog hooked up all the time so if I need the 3-point, it's usually handy.

      I don't know. I find my mule so handy that I don't think I could live without it.
      "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


      • Original Poster

        The problem with the bushhog is I have to mow spring-fall almost every 1-2 weeks. Taking it on/ off gets really annoying so on it stays!
        Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


        • #5
          I have had three old ATVs and all died. I also have three
          tractors, a couple for "real work" and a little old 8N Ford
          for things like spraying and dragging the arena and moving
          grain around. A carryall on the 3 point of the Ford lets
          me move grain, jumps, tools and whatever else I need to
          cart around. The Ford is nearly as old as I am (and I recently qualified for Medicare) and it still is working fine.
          Tractors last, ATVs break. I'd choose a little old tractor.
          Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
          Elmwood, Wisconsin


          • #6
            I'd also choose a tractor. I like the gators/small machines, but those are pretty limited.

            IMO the most bang for your buck would be a small tractor.
            What tractor do you have now? If your only real need is dropping the FEL to get into corners when raking the ring, why not just use a lawn tractor to rake the ring?

            I bought a smaller tractor last year, love it! But do wish it had more hp. Nice part it that the entire FEL and arms comes off in about 2 minutes. No muscles needed.
            You jump in the saddle,
            Hold onto the bridle!
            Jump in the line!


            • #7
              I have one of each (big tractor, gator and lawn tractor) and the gator by far gets the biggest workout each day. It's much more fuel efficient than any of the tractors, easier to load/unload hay, grain, and I think safer to drive into the barn than the other equipment when I need to move stuff around. I don't have a good drag for it though so I end up switching out a box drag with the bush hog on the big tractor.


              • #8
                I have an oversized gas powered golf cart.

                It's 4/all wheel drive so rarely gets stuck. It's dump bed is bigger than those on the gator type vehicles and will carry 3 bales of hay..would carry 3 more if I could reach to stack them...or 4 manure tubs. It can pull my big Newer Spreader and would pull my Parma groomer if i had one
                I wasn't always a Smurf
                Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                • #9
                  My b/o is on the 2nd gator. When we had the first one, someone built a sort of "fence" around the dump bed with hardwood (probably oak) rough sawn 2x8s, which she shifted to the "new" gator. It is a great addition because it allows you to really load it up when picking stalls. You can drop 4 bales from the hay loft into it. She bought both of them used, one in a private sale and one from the local John Deere dealer.

                  I've been around long enough to remember the days when there wasn't a gator, and it sure makes a big difference. It probably gets more of a workout than the big tractor.


                  • #10
                    The Gater is good for its designed use. Trying to use it to pull something like a drag is likely to break its transmission quickly.
                    Equus makus brokus but happy


                    • #11
                      First requirement - tractor, big enough to pull appropriate sized bush hog and hopefully with a loader.

                      Second requirement - UTV (Gator, Mule, etc.) to run around in, carry stuff, and do all the millions of miscellaneous chores. Ease of getting in/out, dump bed, cheap to run - PRICELESS. We drag the ring with it every day and it's the most popular vehicle on the farm.

                      Third requirement - None. You've got it covered.


                      • #12
                        Since you already have a good tractor, get an UTV.
                        JD here will let you try one out, why not see if that is what you can use best?
                        Many farmers here irrigate and since all kinds of 4wheelers came to be, they have one to get around.
                        Before, they had to use their pickups for checking and changing water, at a much higher cost, plus getting stuck when muddy.
                        UTVs have been a godsend for farm work of all kinds, your imagination is the limit on what to use them for.

                        As far as having trouble with any machinery, tractor or Gators, that is a given.
                        We have been lucky not to have any tractor or pickup or Gator trouble ... yet, but that can start to happen today, it is the nature of machinery to sooner or later break down.

                        Then, you can get a lemon in any you buy, we did once buy a lightly used 1988 Chevy pickup that was a lemon, didn't keep it long, as the previous owner evidently also did, but that is another story.

                        Our JD tractors and Gators have been trouble free ... up to now.


                        • #13
                          I LOVE my Kawasaki Mule! Worth it's weight in gold!
                          "Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong."

                          -Archbishop Fulton Sheen


                          • #14
                            I recently purchased a Kubota rtv with 4wd and a long hydraulic dump bed. we also have a Kubota tractor but like the OP it is a pain to use to drag the rings. You need to get a farmboy 3 point hydraulic hitch for it and then it can use all the fancy drags...


                            • #15
                              I would go talk to a good John Deere salesperson(get recommendations from friends or fellow horse people). If needed, have the sales rep come to your place, show them everything that you want done with a smaller tractor or Gator.

                              I have a 95 horse tractor w/FEL, does not work in small spaces but gets what I need done in the pasture. Also have two Gators, a 2X 4 and 2 X 6. In the winter, one is loaded with hay for the horses and the 2 X6 is loaded with hay for the cows. (Yes, I feed square for my cows...I can control their hay waste but feeding less> Round bales are fed when I am traveling).

                              At times I wish I had a 50 horse tractor, but then I would need more stuff -for it.


                              • #16
                                We use one of these too

                                Originally posted by carolprudm View Post
                                I have an oversized gas powered golf cart.

                                It's 4/all wheel drive so rarely gets stuck. It's dump bed is bigger than those on the gator type vehicles and will carry 3 bales of hay..would carry 3 more if I could reach to stack them...or 4 manure tubs. It can pull my big Newer Spreader and would pull my Parma groomer if i had one
                                We use our EZ go to pull the small manure spreader and the simple chain link fence gate to groom the arena...works great!


                                • #17
                                  We have big tractors and a gator. The gator gets more use than anything....great for hauling ANYTHING (hay, water, gardening supplies, etc). I take it out to check the fence on our 10 acre pasture.... we use it to rake our hay, since it is smaller, easier to maneuver and takes up less gas than a tractor. Cutting trees along the fence line....the bed is a perfect height to get up there and get rid of any branches that a horse could smack their head on while playing...ours also has a dump bed, which has been useful for manure, or moving soil or mulch around. So, I use it for the farm, of course, but also for my gardening projects. And, if you have kids, it's safe enough for them to drive (supervised), and my son loves it. I can even have him out in the field raking hay while we're on the tractor baling it! Love the gator!
                                  Angie from Verona, Wisconsin www.glacierridge.com

                                  Owned by a grulla QH, 2 Fjords, and two mini geldings. RIP Kissy. Friend for 26 years...