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Thread: compact tractor use vs skid steers

  1. #1
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    compact tractor use vs skid steers

    im thinking about buying a 40-50 hp 4x4 tractor instead of a skid steer for brush hogging, pushing or blowing snow, and finishing topsoil for seed. does anyone use tractors instead of skid steers? they seem to have less wear and tear and seem cheaper to run and maintain. ive also seen them with fecon type clearing heads on the rear for clearing lots. has anyone used tractors for clearing much?

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    Senior Member Monte1255's Avatar
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    compact tractors with tires will get you through worse conditions than say a 40 to 50 hp skid loader. but in drier conditions a skid loader will move a lot of material, level, and finish very effectively......they tend to get to seem like an extension of yourself after just a few hrs. of operations.

    Putting tracks on the machine or buying a compact track loader will level the playing field as far as getting around in mud and working on sidehills, downside?.........cost.
    www.grunexlandclearing.com
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    Senior Member pafarmer's Avatar
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    I have both and they are two totally different animals in my opinion. I own a tracked skidsteer and a 4X4 tractor. One can't replace the other for my intended usage. For what you describe, a JD 4700 MFWD w/Loader would be the ticket in my humble opinion. Nothing in your list of tasks justifies the use of a CTL.....Good luck.

    Semper Fi

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    A SS is a great machine if conditions are right, a CUT is a great all around machine. I have owned both and moved a lot of material with each. If your only able to have one then go with a CUT. Don't worry about brand so much, there are many machines out there, do reseach and find what meets your needs. Also if your not mechanically inclined make sure you find a respectable dealer with a good maintenace dept.

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    Junior Member imtools's Avatar
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    It seems to me that one big difference has been left out. A CUT with a FEL is not rigid enough for penetrating undisturbed soil while a SS is (the arms bank up against the frame of the machine to allow heavy forward force without bending the arms). That being said, both machines have their benefits-attachments to do just about anything can be had for both but I suspect these attachments are less expensive for CUTs. I have both and they each have their purpose.

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    For a general purpose machine and clearing woods /brush like you want to a skid steer will do way more work then the cut. Cut is good for light duty applications but if you want to do some work get a skid steer. If mud is a problem buy a set of over the tire steel tracks. With those you can go places the cut couldn't dream of. If you buy a cut you may find yourself having to rent a skidsteer but if you buy a skidsteer you won't ever have to rent a cut.

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    An other big difference is that you can't get 115-125 HP and high-flow hydraulics in a compact farm tractor. If you need the power, you'll need to get a SS.

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    I've run both and for the work you've listed a tractor would be the better choice. I reclaimed a 30 acre field that had been abandoned for 5 to 10 years with a 50hp tractor and 6' Brush Hog taking down very thick brush and saplings up to 3" diameter. It had an OROPS and the brush was so thick I shredded a pair of Levis. For pushing snow I'd choose the tractor as well, the tractor has better traction in poor conditions. For blowing snow however, the skid steer would be my choice. The majority of tractor blowers are PTO driven and rear mounted while the skid units are out in front driven by high flow. Visibility is better. For finishing topsoil a tractor with a Harley Rake out back and 4 way bucket up front is tough to beat. With the skid steer you're constantly changing attachments. The tractor is better for general mowing too, leaving less turf damage and having the ability to handle large folding mower decks out back. I've mowed fields with a 50hp tractor and 14' bat wing style mower that can really put down some acreage!

    As has been mentioned, the skid steer will run circles around the tractor moving material and digging. Versatility in attachments is endless with the skid making it the better choice for many jobs. Lift capacity is higher as is loading height. I harvest firewood with mine using a grapple rake for carrying log lengths. I'm able to maneuver through the trees quicker than would be possible with a tractor. For heavier work the skid steer is a good choice.

    I've been impressed with New Holland tractors for reliability. I still think Caterpillar skid steers have the best controls and hydraulics but I would definitely stay away from early versions with Perkins engines. They seem to be a ticking time bomb just waiting to implode.

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    I run a skid steer for all the property upkeep tasks, firewood harvesting etc. and have found it to be more versatile and efficient than my brother's tractor. The only exception is for bush hogging the fields and discing - if that kind of work will be the majority of your tasks then go with the tractor with FEL, otherwise skid steer all the way.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwiley View Post
    I run a skid steer for all the property upkeep tasks, firewood harvesting etc. and have found it to be more versatile and efficient than my brother's tractor. The only exception is for bush hogging the fields and discing - if that kind of work will be the majority of your tasks then go with the tractor with FEL, otherwise skid steer all the way.
    I have run Unimogs and any number of wheel tractors with shredders. For general usage I have found the wheels to be more convenient... what I can't reach up to I can tear down with the grapple... in the urban forest they can do so many more jobs than the SS and then fly down the road to the next job. They are more comfortable, don't heat up so bad, use a third of the fuel, way more power to the tool, are easier to work on, better on sidehill, climbs better without rolling over backwards, higher loadout, and more lift capacity (large 65HP+)... 3-pt fits 1000 tools...

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    Looks like people's responses above vary based on what they own, or what their opinion is, and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, that's for sure!

    Here's some things to think of regardless of opinions, gathering together what was mentioned above and other facts:
    -Skid Steers (SS) often have; higher hp per lb, higher GPM hydraulic flow rates, quick attach for the loader, good lift heights, and are good in tight locations.
    -Tractors can be safely (and often legally) transported down public roads often with only a orange triangle on the back.
    -Tractors can be purchased (or operated) with or without loaders, with or without 3 point attachments. Often people remove quick attach loaders when mowing large areas or using lots of 3 point attachments for better visibility and maneuverability.
    -Tractors are often easier to access for maintenance and repairs.
    -Tractors often are much more stable on side hills, steep inclines, uneven terrain, mud, etc.
    -Tractors have higher ground clearance
    -Many tractors can be adapted or retrofitted to the SSQA (quick attach)
    -SS often have heated and air conditioned cabs
    -Some tractors have cabs as well but are much more costly than a ROPS version of the same machine
    -Many tractors can have auxiliary hydraulics added to the loaders and/or rear of the tractor for attachments.
    -SS can have a 3 point attachment added to the loader, however your rear visibility is poor and many 3 point implements are designed to operate behind the machine not in front of it.
    -SS cannot operate any 3 point attachment with a shaft pto operation (bush hog for instance), you will need a hydraulic bush hog designed for a skid steer.
    -Many SS can't safely carry a heavy load up or down hill, with proper ballast and counterweight a tractor can do this safely.
    -3 point attachments are often half the price or even less than a comparable SSQA attachment. Reason? The hydraulic motors cost a lot more than a gearbox and shaft.
    -There are lots of used 3 point attachments from the 1960's thru today that will fit on almost any tractor.
    -SSQA has been standardized since around 2000.

    As a VERY general rule...SS are great on commercial sites, in flat areas that need material handling, or compact areas, even sometimes in large buildings.
    Again generally....tractors are great on agricultural, forest or uneven terrain locations. The 3 point PTO attachments are inexpensive and can do all sorts of tasks.

    With the above points, if you're looking for bush hogging, snow removal and topsoil work....as long as you don't need to do it in very tight situations...the decision for a tractor is hands down the only option in my mind.

    Harley Rake for soil, front or rear mount blower for snow, and 3point pto bush hog. Now the only decision is how much you want to spend and how big of a machine you'll need!

  12. #12
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    I'd suggest the tractor for it's versatility. My two cents.

  13. #13
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    I agree with a lot of your points but a few i dont get. A skid steer is stable on slopes and has a lower center of gravity compared to a tractor. My skids are counter weighted in the rear so you keep the weight in the right direction. You can easily carry loads on hills just keep the weight close to the ground. I can side cut a road if a hill is to steep.

    To me if you are tending to large fields or farming get a tractor. If you are up keeping property and have less than an acre or so to plow maybe you can get by with just a skid steer. Skid steers can prepare land for later use with a tractor.

    Here is a little clearing i made recently. It took 2 days to make with a skid steer. My tractor could not have done it. I have a rather large 100 hp 14k tractor but it would have been of little use.






    Quote Originally Posted by Billdog350 View Post
    Looks like people's responses above vary based on what they own, or what their opinion is, and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, that's for sure!

    Here's some things to think of regardless of opinions, gathering together what was mentioned above and other facts:
    -Skid Steers (SS) often have; higher hp per lb, higher GPM hydraulic flow rates, quick attach for the loader, good lift heights, and are good in tight locations.
    -Tractors can be safely (and often legally) transported down public roads often with only a orange triangle on the back.
    -Tractors can be purchased (or operated) with or without loaders, with or without 3 point attachments. Often people remove quick attach loaders when mowing large areas or using lots of 3 point attachments for better visibility and maneuverability.
    -Tractors are often easier to access for maintenance and repairs.
    -Tractors often are much more stable on side hills, steep inclines, uneven terrain, mud, etc.
    -Tractors have higher ground clearance
    -Many tractors can be adapted or retrofitted to the SSQA (quick attach)
    -SS often have heated and air conditioned cabs
    -Some tractors have cabs as well but are much more costly than a ROPS version of the same machine
    -Many tractors can have auxiliary hydraulics added to the loaders and/or rear of the tractor for attachments.
    -SS can have a 3 point attachment added to the loader, however your rear visibility is poor and many 3 point implements are designed to operate behind the machine not in front of it.
    -SS cannot operate any 3 point attachment with a shaft pto operation (bush hog for instance), you will need a hydraulic bush hog designed for a skid steer.
    -Many SS can't safely carry a heavy load up or down hill, with proper ballast and counterweight a tractor can do this safely.
    -3 point attachments are often half the price or even less than a comparable SSQA attachment. Reason? The hydraulic motors cost a lot more than a gearbox and shaft.
    -There are lots of used 3 point attachments from the 1960's thru today that will fit on almost any tractor.
    -SSQA has been standardized since around 2000.

    As a VERY general rule...SS are great on commercial sites, in flat areas that need material handling, or compact areas, even sometimes in large buildings.
    Again generally....tractors are great on agricultural, forest or uneven terrain locations. The 3 point PTO attachments are inexpensive and can do all sorts of tasks.

    With the above points, if you're looking for bush hogging, snow removal and topsoil work....as long as you don't need to do it in very tight situations...the decision for a tractor is hands down the only option in my mind.

    Harley Rake for soil, front or rear mount blower for snow, and 3point pto bush hog. Now the only decision is how much you want to spend and how big of a machine you'll need!
    Last edited by Georgia Iron; 12-24-2015 at 08:01 PM.

  14. #14
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    Now that I have this nice and clear with no stumps in the ground I want to use a tractor to plant and tend to it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member pafarmer's Avatar
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    Once clear, a tractor is all a man should ever need to tend to it and maintain it...isthatfor a deer plot G Iron ? Looks awesome !..70 degrees in Northern, Pa. On Xmas day...Merry Christmas to us. Best gift ever, A gift of great weather....

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