View Full Version : Skidsteer vs. Tractor with loader, which would you buy for new home construction?

01-10-2012, 09:26 AM
Just wanted to get some opinions and what better place than here.

In the spring I will be breaking ground on the new house which has roughly 10 acres to maintain. So, I am going back and forth between buying a skidsteer vs. a 40-45hp 4wd tractor with loader and wanted to get thoughts on which one you think would be most useful.

A few things to know:
1) I have a Ford Jubilee currently that is used for mowing fields, etc., and have several implements already.
2) Chances are if I go with a tractor I will end up buying a large finish mower for it to handle the regular maintenance whereas if the skidsteer if the way to go then a zero turn rider would probably be the lawnmower for nearly 5 acres.

My thoughts are that a skidsteer would be nice for the initial construction phase but after that, a tractor would likely be the better answer, just not sure about clearing brush with a tractor...I know I pretty much plow my way through it with the skidsteer I've been using.

Well, thanks in advance for your input.

01-10-2012, 09:36 AM
The skid will be better during the construction phase, but I think you will get more use out of a tractor after that. I couldn't live without mine.

01-10-2012, 11:55 AM
Some friends with about 15 acres recently sold their tractor used primarily for mowing to get a Dixie Chopper zero turn. They say it is much faster than mowing with the tractor.

Just food for thought.

01-10-2012, 12:20 PM
Get the tractor and don't look back. I use my tractor just about every day. I can drive it in the yard because it has the R4 tires and won't tear up the grass. I started with 14 acres of alder saplings and black berry brambles. I put some tines or forks on the front bucket and just plowed right through it and stacked all the brambles up in huge piles and burned them. I then used a brush hog and mowed the saplings down. These were up to 4" in diameters. I now mow and spray twice a year to keep the brambles down. I use the tractor on my gravel driveway several times a year and when it snows it gets the job done too. I have some very steep ground that a skid steer would be ideal on but I can still take my tractor into those same spots. With the quick attach front bucket you can use alot of implements on the front end loader. I have a Kabota L3430 and it seems to be the perfect size. Maybe a tad small now that I think about trying to unload a ton of pellets off the trailer. It will do it but she fights it and the *** end gets pretty light.

What brand tractor are you looking at?

Table Rocker
01-10-2012, 12:29 PM
It's hard to beat the versatility of the tractor.


01-10-2012, 12:39 PM
That reminds me I even used my tractor to lift my old Malibu Response off the trailer so I could re carpet the bunks. Dang, that tractor has been the best tool (and toy) I have ever purchased.

01-10-2012, 12:54 PM
not knowing the terrain you have ... I agree, the skid steer would be most beneficial during the construction phase, but in the long run a mid size 4x4 diesel tractor with loader (prefer quick attach bucket) will be much more versatile. I have 3 Kubotas (25hp, 30hp, 60hp) but if I had to narrow it down to just one, something in the 45-50hp would be my minimum size for all my needs. The smaller 25-35hp are fine for smaller activities, like a 5 foot shredder (brushhog as some refer to them), 5 ft box blade, 6-7 ft angle blade, 5 ft tandem disk and could handle moving a round bail of hay (if you have some implement on the 3 point as counterbalance).

I have had access/owned/operated various brands over the past 40 plus years and my preference is Kubota!!! They are very well build and long lasting. The smaller to mid size John Deere are mostly Yanmar products and you pay a whole lot for that green paint. New Holland similarly is mostly Shibaura products and are nice tractors but very over rated HP wise (my 25 hp Kubota will outwork a 30hp NH or JD). Similarly, my 60hp will outwork a 70-80hp NH or JD hands down for most applications other than the size of shredder I can operate in heavy stuff.

On the other hand, there are all sorts of attachments for a skid steer that make them very versatile too and considerably more maneuverable especially in tight spaces … but if given the choice of only having one, I would have to go with a 45-50 hp tractor/loader.

01-10-2012, 01:11 PM
I'm sure you've thought of this already, but you could buy a used skid steer then trade it out for a tractor when construction is done.

01-10-2012, 04:06 PM
If you've never been on tractorbynet forums, you'll likely find your answer there. A wealth of knowledge there ( like here and ccf ).

01-10-2012, 04:24 PM
Thanks for the input guys it is much appreciated. I agree that the longterm use warrants a tractor but I do have concerns about mowing my lawn with a 4k-5k lbs. machine even with the R4 tires it is going to leave a mark but it may just be one of those things I learn to live with. On the other hand, the skidsteer will likely damage the lawn more than a tractor would when turning........just so many choices.
I had and still am considering the purchase of a skidsteer for the construction phase and then selling it, so it is a possibility.
Tractorbynet is a great an informative forum and have read about this over there and many of the responses are the same. I've pretty much ruled out the JD....they are a great tractor but like someone else said, you pay for the color. I like Kubota but have also spent some time on a Kioti and truthfully, I like it a bit better. I like the NH but again, the pricing is a bit high for what you are getting in my opinion.

Well, no clear cut answer but I do lean towards the tractor option so long as it is large enough and has the necessary lifting capacity.

01-10-2012, 05:34 PM
you could always get a second set of tires/wheels that have turf tires to substitute out (a bit of a PITA) ... and yes, a skid steer will eat up your grass pretty good, especially with tighter turns.

I haven't had dealings with Kioti (South Korean, right?) but just make sure you have a dealer somewhat close for spare parts should you need any. One of the reasons Kubuto is so popular around central TX is there are 4 dealers within about an hour drive of the Austin area for parts and service.

01-10-2012, 05:43 PM
I am fortunate in that I have several dealers very close for each brand out there, so no matter which way I go, I will have a dealer......the question is how good of a dealer! I'd prefer to buy something used to help keep the cost down a bit which would also allow for a few more implements to be purchased, mainly a nice grapple bucket/root rake.

Kioti is South Korean and they actually made the engine for Kubota at one time I believe. The current engine is a Daewoo...I think...it's been a few months since I looked at them and I do not have the info handy. They look a lot like the Kubota but I am not sure how they hold-up longterm as opposed the them....but the owners on tractorbynet seem to like them and the 45hp appears to be the sweet spot of the lineup.

01-10-2012, 09:20 PM

01-10-2012, 09:57 PM
Here's my take on this:

Buy a used skid-steer and sell it when you're done building. You should just about break even.

Buy a new zero-turn mower for your lawn, such as a Lazer Z from Toro. Way faster than any tractor for mowing=more skiing time! You can get a huge bagger for it too for leaf cleanup in the fall.

Use your Jubilee for yard chores, plowing snow, etc.

Do you have any needs that the Ford cannot handle? That may change things.

I have a Kubota with loader, plow blade, york rake and finish mower that really comes in handy. I have someone cut my lawn for me, so I only use it for field mowing. Bought it used cheap for $3K.

01-10-2012, 10:27 PM
I have a 1996 small diesel kubota. It's been a great tractor. But, now their priced up with the JD's. I defiantly would look at a kioti, much more bang for your buck ( like kubota in the 90's). The parent co. Of kioti, dadong? Also makes the bobcat line of tractors and McCormick.
I don't think bobcat would risk putting their name on a rebadged kioti if it wasn't a well built machine. Bobcat puts their own loaders and backhoes on the tractors. Also I don't think you can get a shuttle shift on the smaller bobcats, which I would get over a hst.

01-11-2012, 08:30 AM
Appreciate all of the feedback, you guys are great.
The old Jubilee is getting a little tired and has issues running the brushhog and flail mower so I am somewhat planning for the day it is no longer up to the task. Yes, I could rebuild it and likely will but let's face it, the features and comfort of the newer tractors is hard to pass up.

I agree that at 4-5k lbs. it is too much to mow with but the unless I am wrong, the 40-45hp range is what will run a 6' brushhog and flail mower most efficiently as well as run a good FEL....feel free to correct me as I would love to be able to drop to a lower HP and reduce the weight.
Right now I can pick up a nice used skidsteer for about $8k with 1300hrs. on it (Bobcat 773) and I already have the trailer and truck to haul it so that is not of concern. I have seen nice used ZTR's for $5-7k so when adding the 2 together I am at about what I would be paying for a 40-45hp tractor....
Decisions, decisions!!!!
Thanks again for the input I appreciate it.

Shooter McKevin
01-11-2012, 03:00 PM
Hey jk,

My thoughts are the same as Jerseydave. If you can repair the Jubilee, or replace it with something slightly better, you are using three machines for their intended purposes.

Skidsteers are ideal for construction. ZTR's are ideal for fine mowing a large area. If you are doing a little construction and a little fine mowing the tractor is versatile but not efficient.

One important question is how much of the construction are you doing? If you are doing a lot; like clearing, stripping, backfilling the basement, doing the finished grading, loaming, landscaping, gravel driveways, loading out any amount of excess material, you need a skidsteer.

What's the deal with the skidsteer you are using? Rent, lease, buy/sell one if you have a lot of work to do.

The other important question is how much manicured and non manicured lawn will you have? A 45hp tractor will not be your mower for a manicured yard.


01-11-2012, 03:23 PM
And another option is to find a dual PTO tractor that can be easily fitted with a belly mower (like an oversized riding lawn mower). That is what I did when I was in charge of the local youth soccer fields and needed to upgrade our zero turn. I believe it was a 35-38 hp Kubota with turf tires that had a 6 foot belly mower that we kept 11 acres of soccer fields manicured once to twice a week. we could also use the rear 3pt for blading/box blading the parking area, 3pt tiller to till & replace/repair the goal areas, and a 6 ft 3pt aerator … also had a FEL to move soil & portable goals and use as a lift to repair outbuildings. The belly mower was relatively simple to remove, similar to most 3pt attachments. Just another thought that popped up…

01-11-2012, 07:58 PM
All great thoughts and advice.

In total the manicured lawn area will eventually be 5 acres and is pretty much wide open space with some hhillside terrain but nothing so steep that a ZTR would be in danger of flipping. The biggest thing I will have to do is flatten/smooth out the land as it has been used as horse pasture up to this point so needless to say, the ground is a bit rough. The tractor would probably come in handy to till-up the soil at which point I have a spring tooth drag that can be used to smooth everything before planting the grass. Granted, a rockhound on a skidsteer could certainly handle this as well but not nearly as fast.

In terms of overall construction usage, I have a friend who is an excavator that will be doing all of the actual foundation and intitial grading work so whatever I buy will be more for finish work and landscaping projects. The driveway is roughly 1400' in length and is nearly completed but I will have to do a little clean-up grading and maintain the gravel, but I have a graderbox for that, so again, the tractor seems to win out there. Snow removal will not be an issue as that will be handled by the 8.5' Meyer Super V2 that is on the truck.

So, as it appears I am leaning towards the tractor and simply rent a skidsteer whenever I need one, the question now becomes how much HP is really necessary? The Jubilee is rated around 35hp and granted it is a bit tired but it has difficulty running the 5ft. brushhog and even more problems with the flail mower of the same size. My local dealers are saying that 40-45hp is the way to go and from my experience they do seem to handle the load easily but is it overkill? I always like to error on the side of more hp myself.

01-11-2012, 08:05 PM
Go with the tractor, head to Copley Tool Rental for a skidsteer when needed.

01-12-2012, 09:22 AM
... the question now becomes how much HP is really necessary? The Jubilee is rated around 35hp and granted it is a bit tired but it has difficulty running the 5ft. brushhog and even more problems with the flail mower of the same size. My local dealers are saying that 40-45hp is the way to go and from my experience they do seem to handle the load easily but is it overkill? I always like to error on the side of more hp myself.

I have a 50 horse Kubota and run a 8' brushhog with it. If I get into really thick stuff I have to slow down, but 80% or more of the time I'm running at a nice clip.

01-12-2012, 09:48 AM
I think the "around 35 hp" on the Jubilee might be a stretch ... http://www.tractordata.com/farm-tractors/000/2/1/219-ford-naa.html ... especially if it is getting on the "tired" side. I grew up on the other N series (2, 8, 9) and you are correct in that these are great little machines up to a 5ft shredder (better suited for a 4ft) until you hit heavier/taller grass. but likewise, these are gas engines and do not carry near the torque of the diesel of similar HP ratings. My L245DT (25hp eng/22hp PTO) carries a 5ft shredder equivalent to the 8N/9N and my L295DT (30hp eng/26hp PTO) carries either a 5ft shredder or 5ft finish mower thru the heaviest stuff fine (I have also used a 7ft shredder with success except for the heavier stuff). Personnally, I would go with a minimum 35hp engine (minimum 30hp PTO) 4 wheel drive with a shuttle shift. 40-50 engine (35-45 PTO) would be a preference but would also likely get into a considerable heavier and more expensive unit.

As stated, I am not very familar with the Kioti but from the little research I have done since you raised this point, they seem to be a decent little tractor compared to a Kubota. Just not very available in my area where Kubota is (I actually have 4, forgot my RTV).