How big of a tractor do you use on your homestead?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Nik, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. Nik

    Nik Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the looking stage for a tractor for the homestead and was wondering what size others were using. I figure it'll be a loader capable of moving ton bales of hay, three point for when I need to use the blade and auger, and a "live" pto to cut down some of the weeds when I need to. What I've been seeing with this criteria is at least 35hp. What's in your barn?

    Nik
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    To lift a ton safely you need more than 35 hp. A one ton bale is 5x6ish. Otherwise you'd likely be fine with a smaller tractor. We use a large 72 hp to move 4x4 silage bales that would weigh in near that ton you need to lift. We have too many tractors, but starting near 40 hp would be the smallest then a 50 hp backhoe, 72 hp loader tractor and an 80 hp field tractor, and we have a 42 hp skidsteer too. The smaller 50 hp tractor we also have is for sale but wouldn't handle the weight your estimating. You're sure the bales are that big?
     

  3. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I have a number of tractors, 12 hp through 100hp. I recently sold my 200hp one as I no longer needed it
    For most tasks other than large field tillage the 50HP will meet most needs. A tractor in the 50 HP range with a hefty front axle is not too big for small tasks but large enough to handle homestead chores.
     
  4. Torch

    Torch Well-Known Member

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    You mention in your subject that you're talking about a 'homestead', not a farm. :) To answer your question, my homestead is very happy with an 18 HP compact that does the mowing/bush hogging/hauling chores that need being done.

    Torch
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    How many acres and what other activities??

    I've used mine on 'farmstead' over an area about 50 acres.
    I've used a Ford 9 N tractor. I believe it's 25 hp.
    Used it with a post hole digger for fencing. I've used the tractor for pulling a half ton trailer full of firewood, clearing snow with a blade at the back on the 3 point hitch, and smoothing sand or gravel on on the driveway.
    It has a front end loader, but isn't going to lift more than about a cubic yard of material in the bucket before it gets tipsy at the back. I've used the bucket to pull up old fence posts with a chain wrapped around, and pushed over smaller crap like small trees up to about 4" diameter to clear some areas and stuff like that. You want to be careful about the possibility of rollover if you over load. I wouldn't lift big round hay or straw bales with it, for example.
    I've used the tractor to haul water from the pond for the garden during drought periods, skidded the odd poplar up to the wood furnace for sawing it up for firewood....generally, purposeful 'playing' around. It could come in handy if I had a brush mower attachment, but I don't have that. Big anthills are no match for the bucket to 'smooth' over. Pulled some small willow stumps, but it won't pull any 'big' tree stumps....stuff like that.
     
  6. KesWindhunter

    KesWindhunter Well-Known Member

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    The bale size is gonna push you into a bigger tractor than anything else on your list. I have a JD 4010 that is 67 hp that I wont lift anything over 1500# with. I really dont want to break a front axle :no: I just make my round bales 3/4 size (1000# -1200#) and the big green machine is happy.
    Everything else that you mentioned could be done with a smaller tractor. Like that wonderful Ford 9N...I just love those tractors! I have an IH 404 rowcropper (circa 1950's) that is just a little bigger than the 9N, and gets everything done from postholes, moving snow, harrowing, raking hay, even mowing the hay (200 acres of it).
    Note...allot of the older tractors dont have 'down' pressure on their 3-point hitch. Takes a little longer to auger a post hole is all.
    Good luck finding one that ya wanna bring home!
    Kestrel
     
  7. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    I have a Ford 9N also, it does everything around here except I don't have a loader on it, its very hard on the front end and the 9N just isn't up to that heavy a task like trying to lift large bales.
    I agree with the above posts, 50 hp is more around the range to do chores like that.
    Also beware of rotating it over backwards if your trying to pull stumps or pull very heavy loads, always hitch it as low as possible.
    Many people have been killed just trying to tug it "That one last time" !!
    I've stood my 9N up many times pulling large loads on wagons through heavy mud, I always leave the scraper blade on to stop it from flipping over backwards if my foot doesn't get on the clutch quick enough, and that happens, believe me.
    Also a bale clamp is much safer than carrying round bales on the bucket, if you carry it too high, the bale can roll down the arms and flatten you big time.
    As stated in the other posts, the weight workload required is what determines how big a toy you really need, always go bigger if you can afford it.
     
  8. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    What about a bale spike on the back of the 9n's how do those work, since all the weight is on the rear axle?
     
  9. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    A bale spike will work on a 9N for smaller round bales but the bigger ones will have you driving around with the front wheels off the ground all day unless you add weight, and its at this point your overloading a fairly small tractor, its kind of like torturing your Grandmother, you wouldn't want to do that would you ?
    Remember this little honey of a tractor is, after all is said and done still an antique.
     
  10. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    When you say smaller....

    :confused:
     
  11. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do you _need_ to lift the bales with a front end loader?

    A 35-50 hp nice utility tractor with a rebuilt hyd pump will handle the bale on the 3pt, but you need a _real_ heavy tractor to lift those bales on the front end. It's not just being able to lift them, it's being able to travel with the load, and having the tractor stable enough not to tip over.

    I bale 6x5 bales, and can sometimes lift them with my little 27hp compact tractor, sometimes with my 45 hp old tractor that needs a rebuild on the pump, and always lift them with my 85 hp tractor with fluid in all 4 tires.

    I would not want to lift them high with a front end loader, even if I could, with any of the little tractors.

    This year I got a siscors-lift 3pt bale spear (Fred Cain model) that will lift the bales about 5' high with the 3pt. I worry enough using that with my 85 hp tractor. That is a lot of weight up that high. However this type of bale lift on the 3pt would be more stable than a front mount loader....

    --->Paul
     
  12. KesWindhunter

    KesWindhunter Well-Known Member

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    Guys, a 9N has a GVW of only 2410# with all fluids at full!

    And my 4010 is almost an antique, just big enough to handle a 1200# bale with the front end loader/grapple fork and a bale on the back with a hydro/3pt bale unroller. Which really evens the load out nicely, I might add.
    There are smaller round bales(600#-800#) that are being made more often now. And there is a medium square bale that tops out at 1000#, I believe. We are seeing them in our country more and more, because of our mid-sized tractors, and they are easy to load/unload and haul on a semi.
    Kestrel
     
  13. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I have an 8n which makes a nice little utility tractor but doesn't have the "oomph" (yes, that's a technical term) for what you want to do (neither does a 9n).

    A couple points as folks toss around horsepower numbers. First you have the engine horsepower, then you have the rating at the PTO at x RPMs (usually 75%-80% of maximum rated RPMs). In addition to horsepower, you have the lifting capacity of the hydraulics for the 3pt. On an 8n it is 365 lbs (I might be off 10 lbs or so, I'd have to go look it up in the operators manual). KesWindhunter is correct about the GVW of the 9n....except I believe that is without fluids. At least in the 8n manual specs they specify dry weight.

    I'm looking to get something larger and I'm considering a MF65 or a MFSuper90. It's better to have a little too much power/capacity than a little too little.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  14. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    When we had the bad snows, my truck slid in my inlaws driveway to their ditch, I had just put a ton of gravel in the back for weight on the axle. Their neighbor had a MFsuper90, the other neighbor had a new kubota with a front endloader and all. The MF was the only thing that could pull be out of that ditch. It is truly a workhorse.
     
  15. Wannabee

    Wannabee Foggy Dew Farms

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    I have a Ford 850 - it is a wonderful tractor. Bigger engine than an 8N. I have a front loader on it which does almost everything around my house, a grader blade, a plow, and a disc. These are all for the three point hitch. When I am using the loader for something really heavy, I can put the dual tires on the back of the tractor for additional weight. It is somewhat a pain in the rear to do this, but I can.

    I would highly recommend a Ford tractor for a small homestead - easy to find parts, easy to repair. Just make sure you get a tractor with a three point hitch. That is pretty much essential if you really want one tractor to do everything!
     
  16. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    I handle round bales with a front-end loader on a IH 656 (Farmhand loader) has enough lift to stack 2-high with 1500 lb. bales. That's a lot of weight on the tractor and you want to plan carefully picking up on hilly ground. Handle bales with a 3-pt. bale mover on 4020 as well.

    First question is size of homestead and do you expect to be handling round bales? Round bales are a fast way to make hay, but if you don't shed them or wrap them, you'll have weather damage and quite a bit of feeding waste. Per ton, small squares will bring more than round bales as well. If you are looking to sell or feed small amounts and have access to small square baler, I'd go that route.

    Now, as for lifting capacity. I think the engineering specs for tractor 3-pts. are 52 lbs. of lift for every HP (on the drawbar). This is for a load whose mass is centered 2 feet behind the 3-pt hitch pins. So, in theory, a 30-HP tractor should lift 1500 lbs. BUT ...

    1. A 1500 lb. round bale has its mass farther back so it's equiv. to more than the theoretical max.

    2. Older tractors tend not to have as heavy-duty hydraulics (smaller pumps and lower flows)

    If we're talking about an 8N, I think it has max drawbar HP of a shade over 23, so it could in theory handle 1200 lbs., but I wouldn't want to count on an 8N for that. If you have more than 750 lbs. on the 3-pt. you'll likely have the front-end coming up w/o weights. You can put lfront-end weight on the 8N and then she'll steer harder (No factory PS on them), so I wouldn't call an 8N a good loader tractor. You can also put fluid in the rear tires and get a set of pie weights for the rear tires, but the 8N is a light tractor (I think a shade over 2400 lbs. with air in the tires.)

    I know guys pick up bales with 8Ns, but they're probably hanging quite a bit of weight on the tractor and some even block the bypass/relief valve shut on the hyd. pump. In short, no way to treat a good little utility tractor like an 8N.

    Since I believe in the better to have it and not need it approach, if you want to be handling bales think about a tractor like a 1970-75 Ford 5000 diesel or a JD 4020 diesel. (More hp, better fuel economy, modern hydraulics, and good resale) If you're willing to skip the big bales, a Ford 801 series, a Major/Super Major or a Ferguson T0-35 are all good choices. Just my $0.02, but I think the 8Ns are a bit over-priced for a roughly 25 HP tractor without live PTO, no PS, etc. They are excellent tractors, but probably not the best value out there.
     
  17. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    When I bought my tractor, I was told that 40hp would be the minimum to pull a PTO powered baler on gentle slopes.

    I now own a JD 5105. 45hp. The literature says the bucket can lift 3500 pounds.
     
  18. twstanley

    twstanley Well-Known Member

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    It depends on the type of baler, a small square baler can be run with 20 - 25 pto hp. I run a JD 14T behind a Kubota L2350 which has about 20 pto hp. The slopes are gentle that we run it on, and the lack of live PTO is a pain, but it does just fine. My father-in-laws TC30 ( probably 27 pto hp ) has live pto and does real well with this baler.

    A round baler uses more horse power, probably want at least 40 for one of those.
     
  19. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Paul is it 3500 lift or breakout force? There is a leverage effect from the bucket. No matter your front axle will not support that kind of weight repeatedly. Heck my Ford 6600 has had the front end repaired 3 times and we don't routinely handle much over 800 pounds on the loader. Industrial loader and 10.00 16 tires to float the load but it's still hard work for it.
     
  20. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That sounds more like breakout force, not lifting weight. I'd think lifting would be 2200# or so. Since a round bale is 5 feet wide & these ratings are right at the ends of the arms, you can only lift maybe a 1500# bale.....

    Put that much in the bucket, lift it 8 feet off the ground, and I'd be too scared to move for tipping..... And I've farmed all my life, my loader tractor is actually narrow front & such....

    --->Paul