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Equipment for small farm

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  • #21
    We have 10 acres with 8 stall barn, all is grazing except for some areas of trees around buildings. We have a kubota tractor and utv. I'm not sure the hp of my tractor (how embarrasing) but it's in the 40's I think...The UTV has a dump back.

    The tractor has a FEL and a pto. I have pallet forks, bale spike, mower, snow blade, harrow and broom attachments. To use the snow blade or the broom requires removing the FEL. This is a pita. I have been outside at midnight trying to get that set up changed for hours and don't think I will do it again. Now I only use the bucket of the FEL to clear the snow. It doesn't work nearly as well as the blade but the agony of taking off the FEL assembly isn't worth the better snow clearing. I am going to likely return the blade and the broom and get a blade for the UTV.

    The bucket, spike and forks are all quick-attach and very easy to change. I move large 12-1300lb round bales with the spike. Moving these bales is stressful. I can lift them over a fence but choose not to. My tires are weighted and everytime I move one I feel very uneasy. I buy pelleted bedding by the pallet, one weighs close to 2000lbs and there is no way I can lift it with the tractor. When I get into the yard with my truck I have to unload half by hand before I can lift the rest out with the tractor. The pallet forks are indispensible. I love making small stacks of square bales on pallets and moving them around. It's great for unloading feed or moving a garbage bin. Highly recomended.

    The only pto attachment I use is the mower and that's my only mower. It's a pita to go around trees or anything detailed. I sometimes can't get the 3 point hitch attached, so I am really reluctant to remove it once it's on. I've almost taken out several trees with the FEL trying to navigate around them. It's also really tight along fence lines. Great for paddocks and small brush though.

    I wish I had a chain harrow. Wish I had a small ride on mower instead of the big tractor mower.

    We use the UTV constantly. We muck stalls right into the back of it, and it's small enough to park in the barn. I drive it around paddocks and pick them into the back of it. I am going to get a spreader for it I think for this summer.

    If I had to give up one of those machines, it would likely be the tractor but it's a tough call.


    • #22
      We farm and board horses for a living and I seem to spend much of my time trying to keep everything around here running properly. As such, I'm a fan of "less is more" when it comes to equipment.

      You could probably hire the pasture clipping, etc. done and get by with a garden tractor/lawnmower with a small chain harrow for mowing the yard and dragging the ring. I daresay you could probably hire the 'field work' done for less money than you're going to put out for your equipment. The only thing you wouldn't be able to do is feed round bales but there are ways to do that on a small scale without killing yourself or buying a larger tractor.

      If you are going to buy a larger tractor I'd encourage you to think 60+ engine hp. That's really big enough to feed and move round bales safely. Larger tractors are much sturdier, built to handle a lot more abuse and hours and they cost roughly the same money on the used market as a much smaller machine.


      • Original Poster

        Seeing what's been said about moving large square bales (and even round bales, which I'm not considering) I've decided to not plan to move them whole with my own equipment. The cost of going from a 25hp to 60+ hp tractor, or even from a 25hp to a 40hp is big enough that we'll never justify by the savings of the large bales. If we find later that the lg sq bales are interesting we'll figure out how to move them or have them delivered in place and not move them again.

        As for the mowers, a couple of colleagues suggested that if I will mow with a compact tractor, it will be necessary to remove the FEL to safely navigate without damaging something. They agreed that having an FEL and trying to mow under or behind, you're bound to make a mistake sometime. They also suggested that well-suspended zero turn radius mowers can handle wavy ground without major issue. They also suggested that using heavy rollers and aerators to recondition the grounds will help smooth and improve the turf over the years.


        • #24
          15 acres here...

          Kubota 3540 (35 horse) tractor with cab and front-end loader
          80" Mott Flail Mower (drum mower)
          7-foot blade
          8-foot PTO/3-point snowblower
          3-point arena rake
          Pallet forks
          want to get a grapple bucket/root bucket too
          I only got one rear remote -- wish i would have gotten 2. I'll be adding 2nd one this spring.

          Also have an 8-foot drag harrow for breaking up poo piles and doing quick grooming of arenas.

          2006 polaris ranger 2x4, chains on the back - it goes great in snow.
          old kawasaki 4-wheeler, use it for spraying and for pulling the drag harrow, it turns better and is easier to see the drag when i'm using it

          Have a 50-something inch Husquvarna zero turn mower that does lawn duty -- it's great!

          Picked up a DR field and brush mower last fall as well - highly recommended, it's amazing and super easy to use.


          • #25
            Originally posted by DHCarrotfeeder View Post

            As for the mowers, a couple of colleagues suggested that if I will mow with a compact tractor, it will be necessary to remove the FEL to safely navigate without damaging something. They agreed that having an FEL and trying to mow under or behind, you're bound to make a mistake sometime.
            YES! They are so right. Because of the hassle of removing FEL, I don't do it and my fences and trees show my mistakes. Looking behind at the mower and in front at the loader is tough to co-ordinate.


            • #26
              For those that curse changing the front end loader to hay fork etc have you looked at getting it converted to quick attach. You flip the levers and drop one attachment, scoop up the next and close the levers, literally takes a minuit. It cost about $1000 to have our FEl converted from pins to quick attach and appropriate bracket welded on the existing bucket. Biggest time saver and frustration reliever ever.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by sherian View Post
                For those that curse changing the front end loader to hay fork etc have you looked at getting it converted to quick attach. You flip the levers and drop one attachment, scoop up the next and close the levers, literally takes a minuit. It cost about $1000 to have our FEl converted from pins to quick attach and appropriate bracket welded on the existing bucket. Biggest time saver and frustration reliever ever.
                They did say that with QD it's entirely reasonable. But without it, forget it.


                • #28
                  We have a very small place, 3.5 acres, which host the house and barn. A few years ago we bought a JD2320 with a FEL and box blade. Since then we have added a landscape rake and harrow on a frame. That little tractor is perfect for this size place. We have reduced the size of our yard so that it is no more than an apron on either side of the driveway that a regular riding mower can handle.

                  I can *move* round bales with my FEL by using a series of push, pulls and crab walking but it takes some time. You will destroy any riding mower using it in the horse pasture proper. The divots in the ground caused by the hooves and the piles of manure you hit tear up regular residential type riding mowers.


                  • #29
                    Rolling and aerating definitely does improve the lawn area. Only issue those don't help is if you have rocky soil, but not everywhere does. It's something I'm really used to here in CT so I aerate every few years by tearing my lawn off with a rake, removing rocks and replanting. Kind of a big pita.

                    My little 24hp JD came with the entire FEL removeable and it takes all of 90 seconds and one little person. The New Holland is a quick-attach with the pins but still takes 2 people and a little longer. At least I can't do it solo, I'm not very strong/big. And that's only for the bucket, not the arms.

                    However I wouldn't try mowing my lawn with the JD even with the entire FEL off because I can't change the tires to mow and the Ag tires tear the heck out of turf, and turf tires are useless on the rest of my property.

                    How useful your tractor is will depend heavily on how easy the implements are to get on and off. If it's going to be a major production to change implements, you tend to just not bother. And not bother getting extra implements due to them being a pain in the butt to change out. So while the more hp of the New Holland is more useful for me in certain areas, the time and effort for adding/removing implements means I rarely use it. The JD's implements pop on and off like a Tonka toy, so it's no big deal to use one rake, drive over and swap out to the bigger rake, drop the entire FEL and go rake the riding ring, go pick the FEL back up, drop the rack, pick up the ballast box and go move manure. Downside is I can't do much in clearing/extra work but it's great for daily chores.

                    Someone REALLY needs to make a lot of horsepower in a smaller packaged tractor.
                    You jump in the saddle,
                    Hold onto the bridle!
                    Jump in the line!


                    • #30
                      Just FYI, big squares here are about half the cost of small squares.


                      • #31
                        We have two 72" zero turns

                        You'd be surprised how fast you can mow 40 rolling acres with it. While it does not feel like a golf course (bounces the fat off) it sure looks like one when it's finished.

                        Buy bigger than you think you'll ever need. Really.


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by sherian View Post
                          For those that curse changing the front end loader to hay fork etc have you looked at getting it converted to quick attach. You flip the levers and drop one attachment, scoop up the next and close the levers, literally takes a minuit. It cost about $1000 to have our FEl converted from pins to quick attach and appropriate bracket welded on the existing bucket. Biggest time saver and frustration reliever ever.
                          My implements ARE quick attack. However, to attach the snow blade you have to remove the entire front end loader. Not the same thing as changing an implement. I change the implements all the time with the exception of the snow blade.


                          • #33
                            I would LOVE to figure out a way to avoid purchasing a tractor (9.9 acres). So far I'm very happy with hiring out the snow removal this winter. I'd bounce on a big zero turn, fwiw. Our driveway is already looking rutted and sorry though, and I'm not sure how to get around the poop moving...

                            A fence post drill would be nice too for posts and for replanting trees (I have a bunch of little trees to move).

                            I'm very interested in the responses. It seems like the big hay (squares or rounds) are what kicks everyone out of the smaller compact tractor range? But then it looks like you need a big (on a hobby level) tractor to be safe? Is the OP's budget (15k) feasible? I looked up some of the specs you guys have mentioned and it is more like double...
                            DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                            • #34
                              Winter - I use a snowblower - 4' x 20' drifts are rather hard to push. I wouldn't want to attempt to remove the entire FEL assembly.
                              We found it was the actual mass of the tractor even with weighted tires etc that is the limiting factor as much as the horsepower. The FEL will lift it but the hind tires come off the ground and it goes downhill from there. Some of the newer brands such as Kioti and Mahinda? are cheaper, and they all offer financing over huge time frames. A base "work" tractor can actually be cheaper and taxed/different finance rates than a loaded "lifestyle farm" tractor, so it pays to be flexible.

                              ETA my idea of removing the entire FEL involves phoning the mechanic, I meant for the QD for changing implements "on" the FEL
                              Last edited by sherian; Feb. 26, 2013, 05:47 PM.


                              • #35
                                I think the Deere 4600 / 4700 size tractor would be as small as I would want to go, the newer 4320 would probably be OK too. Some of our big squares are over 800 pounds and can really bang our 4710 around pretty good. I do carry two of them quite a bit, but the back end gets pretty light even with the weight box. IMO, getting flipped over or crushed is not worth the few grand you will save up front...




                                • Original Poster

                                  I'm still reading and appreciating the discussion. As an engineer it seems obvious that lifting 800lb with the FEL is going to exceed the forces keeping the back wheel on the ground unless it's a large, heavy tractor. I'm not yet certain why I need to get the bale that high and far forward of the tractor's CG. And I haven't yet found another chore that will demand this much grunt.

                                  Lets for a moment assume that I have plenty of floor space to handle some lg. sq. bales, and so lifting and stacking is not necessary. Just get it a foot off the ground and move it. Would a 3pt bale spear be useful for moving the bales from the storage area to the barn? Is it possible to "cut" a lg. sq. bale and re-band it into two halves or 3 thirds?



                                  • #37
                                    Not worth the risk. We had a tractor that was too small and hit unlevel groound and only one front tire actually was on the ground, almost rolled it. Even if you keep it low it can be dicey - ours crab walked and couldn't move in 2WD, had to go to 4WD. I don't know if a bale spear that goes on the 3PT hitch would work.
                                    You could get a set of pallet forks and split the bale up (stack the flakes) onto pallets to move.
                                    Don't forget you will need to have the reach to unload them from the delivery truck unless the farmer brings his own equipment - you'll need to pick them up about 3' to get them off a flat bed trailer, higher if it's delivered by transport.


                                    • #38
                                      Yep, they are going to come 2 or 3 high on a flatbed, I stack them 3 or 4 high for storage.


                                      • #39
                                        I meant to add that I would highly encourage anyone looking to buy a tractor to think used and head to Tractorhouse and peruse the listings before dropping big bucks on shiny paint for something that isn't going to get used very often.

                                        As with any used purchase it's a good idea to ask several people in the know what they think and triangulate the information before moving forward. I'm looking to add a loader tractor 65 hp+ that will get used on our farm for a couple hours every single day and I'm not willing to spend more than $10,000 to get it. I had forty three pages of results to peruse when I looked a few minutes ago. I promise it can be done.


                                        • Original Poster

                                          Knowing that, if large square bales become necessary then maybe the better plan is to concrete the storage building floor and buy a forklift. Yes a big tractor is nice but doubling the size just so the FEL can handle the big bales smells like false economy.

                                          That said, most barns around here are still using small squares. The large bales are not strictly necessary.