skidsteer

A Tractor vs Skid Steer For Your Farm or Homestead

So you’ve just moved to some acreage and you’re excited but a little overwhelmed with the amount of work ahead of you. You decide you need some equipment to help make some quicker progress building infrastructure, clearing land, and maintaining roads and paths.

So do you buy a tractor as most people do or should you consider a skid steer? We’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of each and why one might be better than the other depending on your situation.

Skid Steer With Goats

Why You Might Choose a Tractor

There are a number of reasons you may choose a tractor over a skid steer or compact track loader. If the land you’ve purchased (or are leasing) is relatively clear, pasture-like land, with little major land moving needed, a tractor will work well.

Tractors are better at pulling than pushing where as skid steers are better pushers. So if you need to do any sort of plowing, finish mowing, seeding, etc. a tractor is going to work better than a skid steer. Here are some other reasons you might choose a tractor:

  • Typically tractors are lighter weight and easier to transport when needed.

  • You can usually find a used tractor a lot cheaper than a skid steer.

  • Tractors usually have a softer footprint on your land and don’t tear things up as much as a skid steer.

  • You get PTO (Power Take Off) which can drive some really cool things like a PTO Wood Chipper, PTO Spreader, or a PTO Wood Splitter.

Why You Might Choose a Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader

If you’ve bought raw land you might have a big task in front of you. From clearing trees, to building ponds, or building roads, a skid steer is going to make that work a lot easier than a tractor.

If you have sloping land like we have, a skid steer, or specifically a compact track loader is going to be able to traverse a lot more terrain than a tractor with its lower center of gravity and wide tracks. Here are a few more reasons why a skid steer might work better for you:

  • If you have a lot of fence to build, a front mounted augur on a skid steer is quicker and can go deeper than a 3-point hitch mounted tractor one.

  • The lifting capacity of a skid steer is greater than an equally sized tractor allowing you to lift 1 ton pallets of feed or other things a small tractor would struggle with.

  • If you need to move large amounts of stuff (gravel, manure, compost, etc) a skid steer will have a larger bucket and be able to carry more at one time than most tractors.

  • There are even more cool attachments for skid steers that run off the auxiliary hydraulics such as: Grapple, Brush Cutter, or Tree Puller.

Conclusion

So both types of machine can help save you a lot of time on your farm or homestead. Each location is going to have a specific set of features and requirements that will help dictate your situation.

Here on our homestead, we went with a skid steer for the reasons mentioned above but will likely trade it in for a tractor once we finish with a lot of the land clearing, pond building, and road work. So that’s an option too.

Below is also a short video we made on the the top along with some specifics on the John Deere 333d that we use.