Using Skid Steers for Farming

Using Skid Steers for Farming

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Are you considering getting a skid steer for your farming operation? Skid steers are powerful pieces of heavy equipment that can be used in various industries, ranging from construction to agriculture.

These machines can be highly beneficial and can deliver excellent performance in the fields or inside the barn. Having a skid steer on a farm allows your team to tackle its day-to-day work efficiently and easily.

Learn more about using a skid steer for farm work and how you can choose the right model for your operation.

What Is a Skid Steer?

A skid steer, also called a skid steer loader, is a versatile piece of heavy equipment. These machines’ main uses are digging and hauling materials in construction applications, though they can perform a vast range of jobs.

Skid steers have relatively compact bodies compared to other machines. They feature an attachment, typically a bucket, in front. Despite their small size, they offer high power and are a great option for performing heavy tasks at job sites with limited space.

These machines are available in different sizes and models. They are compatible with many different attachments, giving them even greater versatility. One of the biggest advantages of skid steers is how they can reduce the need for more heavy-duty pieces of equipment.

Those in the agricultural industry can benefit from using a skid steer as farm equipment.

Types of Skid Steers

Skid steer loaders are available in two configurations — wheeled or tracked.

1. Wheeled Skid Steers

Models that feature wheels are best suited for working on level surfaces, such as:

  • Asphalt
  • Concrete
  • Packed dirt

They are a better option when operators need to travel through landscaped zones. However, the machine’s weight distribution is across four points, making them more likely to sink into soft ground surfaces. Wheeled skid steers tend to be less expensive, though their tires typically wear sooner than tracks.

2. Compact Track Loaders

Compact track loaders are largely the same piece of equipment as skid steers, only they have wide tracks on either side of the machine instead of wheels. They have a broader weight distribution because the tracks offer more surface area.

Compact track loaders are a better option for conditions such as:

  • Sand
  • Mud
  • Gravel
  • Snow

They are better suited for soft ground conditions because they do not pack the ground they drive over. Compact track loaders also offer a smoother ride than models with wheels. One downside of having tracks is their quick wear when operating on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt.

When to Use a Skid Steer vs. a Compact Track Loader

When choosing a track or wheel skid steer for farm use, take a close look at the terrain and ground conditions first. Terrain will be the most important differentiating factor when deciding between these machines. Track loaders are better suited for soft, uneven conditions, while skid steers are best for roads and paved pathways.

Some other key differences to consider when choosing between the two include:

  • Maneuverability: Skid steers are great for tight workspaces because they are highly maneuverable. Track loaders, on the other hand, require slightly more space to perform the same sharp turns.
  • Speed: The track on a compact track loader reduces maximum operating speeds. These machines are less efficient than skid steers, which can move and take turns faster.
  • Power: A skid steer loader is built for carrying lighter loads. Track loaders are better for heavier loads, thanks to the additional traction they have.
  • Site clean-up: Skid steer tires can tear up softer surfaces, while tracks wear down quickly on concrete and asphalt.

Be sure to consider these factors when choosing between a skid steer or compact track loader for farming applications.

Farming Attachments for Skid Steers

Some useful farm attachments for skid steers and compact track loaders include the following:

  • Augers: These attachments are built for efficiently drilling circular holes into the ground.
  • Backhoes: These tools involve a boom, stick and bucket. They are suitable for digging and transporting materials.
  • Bale grabs: Bale grabs are made for securely grasping and moving baled materials.
  • Bale spears: Efficiently transporting bales is easy with spear attachments that penetrate the bale.
  • Brush cutters and shredders: From trimming tall grasses to cutting overgrown brush, cutter and shredder attachments are useful for landscaping needs on the farm.
  • Buckets: Bucket attachments are helpful for a plethora of applications, from digging into the ground to hauling heavy loads.
  • Dozer blades: Dozer blade attachments are used for earthmoving needs as the blade cuts through and scoops away materials.
  • Rippers: These tools are useful in breaking up hard-packed materials and churning up the ground’s surface.
  • Silage defacers: These heavy-duty attachments work with a rotating blade to remove silage from bunkers.
  • Trenchers: Trenchers can cut into the soil and provide enough power to dig into tough and rocky soils.

Skid Steers for Farming Applications

Explore some of the most common uses for skid steers and compact track loaders in the agricultural industry:

Fertilizing and Seeding

Skid steer loaders are well-suited for covering large surface areas. This makes them suitable for distributing fertilizer and scattering seeds. From prepping the land to hauling heavy seed loads, skid steers are an excellent option for prepping farmland for crops.

These machines provide enough power and speed for transporting materials across vegetation fields efficiently.


Earthmoving is an important process for many agricultural operations. Farmers need to be able to move hard-packed dirt and rocks around their property. A skid steer loader equipped with a bucket attachment is the perfect tool for digging into stubborn materials or scraping the top layer of soil for removal.

Another benefit of using a skid steer on the farm is its low center of gravity, making it more stable when traveling over uneven or sloped surfaces. A compact track loader is an even better option for earthmoving applications with wet and muddy conditions. Skid steers are more well-suited for jobs on hard or frozen surfaces.

Hay Baling and Handling

Farmers, especially those who grow their own hay, can benefit from having popular farming attachments for skid steers and compact track loaders, including bale grabs and spears.

From cutting hay in the fields to moving bales around your property, having one of these machines can make baling and managing hay much easier. Transporting bales for feeding or storing is simple with the right tools.

Livestock and Feed Management

From daily feedings to cleaning up waste, managing livestock is a lot of hard work for farmers. Skid steers and compact track loaders can help streamline these tasks. Operators can transport feed between secure storage areas and where the livestock habitat the farm.

Having one of these machines allows you to work quickly and avoid the hassles of using a traditional wheelbarrow or feed bucket.

Mowing and Brush Clearing

Compact track loader and skid steer farm attachments, including brush cutters and shredders, are suitable for agricultural applications. Managing overgrowth on the property is important for farmers because tall and unruly vegetation can attract unwanted animals and pests.

Brush cutters and shredders can effectively chew up thick plants for easy clean-up and clearing efforts. You can also mulch the brush and recycle it for other uses, such as fertilizer on the farm.

Fence Building

Skid steers and track loaders are valuable pieces of equipment for building fences. Farmers looking to install a barrier around animal pastures or crops can use these machines to:

  • Remove existing fence posts.
  • Clear leftover materials.
  • Dig post holes.
  • Install posts.
  • Drive T-posts into the ground.

These machines make it easy to perform fence-building jobs because they can work with many diverse attachments.

Storage Organization

If your farm uses warehousing and storage for your equipment and materials, a skid steer loader can assist with organizing efforts. The wheels allow skid steers to maneuver inside more easily than a compact track loader, and they won’t wear down as quickly as tracks tend to on hard surfaces.

Lifting feed into secure storage locations is essential for keeping pests out. Stacking hay bales and hoisting materials is much easier with the help of a skid steer and its attachments.

Road Maintenance

Whether you have a driveway or pathways throughout your farm property, keeping them maintained is essential. Skid steer loaders and compact track loaders are well-equipped for many road maintenance applications, from spreading gravel to clearing snow.

Dairy Operations

From feeding the livestock to cleaning out the pens, a skid steer is a handy piece of equipment for dairy farming operations. Thanks to their compact size, skid steers can easily maneuver around barn stalls and tight quarters. Different attachments, such as bale spears and buckets, are helpful when tending to the cows and ensuring they are healthy and happy for better milk production.

Benefits of Using a Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader for Farm Use

Benefits of Using a Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader for Farm Use

Explore some of the most significant benefits of having a skid steer or compact track loader for farming applications:

  • Versatility: Skid steer loaders can perform a very wide range of tasks thanks to the various attachments they can accommodate. Whether you need to dig post holes or haul hay bales, these pieces of equipment can get the job done.
  • Stability: Whether you’re working with a wheeled or tracked skid loader, you can enjoy more stability while traveling over different ground conditions. Skid steers have a compact size and low center of gravity, so operators can comfortably travel on slopes.
  • Maneuverability: Skid steer loaders offer greater mobility than many other types of heavy equipment. Operators can maneuver around narrow spaces and take sharp turns with ease.
  • Efficiency: Despite their small size, skid steer loaders can boost the efficiency of many farm applications. They are high-performing pieces of heavy equipment thanks to their higher hydraulic flow rate. Hydraulic attachments can also make tackling different jobs faster.
  • Size: Skid steer loaders are available in different sizes, but all models are relatively compact. Whether you need your equipment for large-scale agricultural projects or a small local farm, you can find the right size to suit your specific applications and needs.

Skid Steer vs. Tractor for Farm Use

Are you wondering whether it is best to use a skid steer or tractor for farm applications? The two are similar in many ways, but there are some key differentiating factors, such as:

  • Maneuverability: When comparing skid steers vs. tractors for small farm use specifically, a skid steer is easier to maneuver around tight areas.
  • Costs: Tractors are typically a smaller investment than skid steer loaders, and they often have cheaper operating costs.
  • Efficiency: Many skid steers feature hydraulic coolers. These components can save time and enable the machine to work for hours on end. Skid steers are also faster and can cover more ground quickly.
  • Stability: Tractors have a higher center of gravity and offer less stability than a skid steer does.
  • Maintenance: A skid steer loader typically requires more maintenance than a tractor, especially if it has tracks rather than wheels.
  • Power: When considering each machine’s performance, a tractor can deliver considerably more horsepower than a skid steer can.
  • Size: You can often find tractors in larger sizes than skid steers, and tractors may be better suited for especially large-scale farming operations.

Skid Steer Sizes

All skid steer loaders are relatively small compared to other heavy equipment. Here are the three main size classifications of these machines and the jobs they are best suited for:

  • Large-frame: If you are running a major commercial farming operation, a large-frame skid steer is likely your best option for covering more surface area in less time.
  • Medium-frame: For those tackling a mid-tier excavation or earthmoving project on a relatively large farm, a medium-frame skid steer loader can get the job done efficiently without taking up too much space.
  • Compact-frame: A compact-frame skid steer is the easiest size to maneuver and is best suited for small farming operations and landscaping projects.

Finding the Best Size Skid Steer for Farm Use

Before deciding on the right skid steer for your farm, assess the following factors:

  • Property size: Consider your farm’s size and the scale of your operation. Your property size will inform which size skid steer you’ll need.
  • Conditions: Evaluating your farm’s ground conditions and the terrain is important for finding the right size machine and deciding whether you want a wheeled skid steer or a track loader.
  • Available space: Assess your available space for maneuvering around your farm, and determine if you have enough room to store the machine securely.

What Is the Best Skid Steer for Large Farm Use?

If you own a large farm, you’ll need a skid steer that can handle the scale of your operation and the applications you need to perform.

The Cat® 242D3 Skid Steer Loader is an ideal option for massive farms. Its size and design make it perfect for material handling. It has a vertical lift path and makes truck loading easy and highly efficient, thanks to its extended reach and lift heights.

The Cat 236D3 Skid Steer Loader is another good pick for large-scale farms. This model has mid-lift reach but offers excellent digging capabilities and impressive drawbar power.

What Is the Best Skid Steer for Small Farm Use?

For smaller farm operations, a more compact skid steer is typically a better option to accommodate the limited space.

The Cat 226D3 Skid Steer Loader is a smaller model that provides outstanding power and has the following features:

  • Excellent mid-lift reach
  • Outstanding digging performance
  • Powerful hydraulic system

Finding the best skid steer for farm use is simple with Cat equipment.

What Is the Best Compact Track Loader for Farm Use?

As the name suggests, compact track loaders are smaller pieces of heavy equipment well-suited for tight workspaces on any farm.

The Cat 259D3 Compact Track Loader has a vertical lift design that makes loading trucks easy and efficient. The extended reach and lift height, paired with outstanding traction, means your operators can work swiftly and remain stable, even with wet and soft conditions.

The Cat 279D3 Compact Track Loader is another great option. It features a radial lift design that allows for superior digging performance. Its drawbar power and suspended undercarriage system enable these machines to enhance efficiency for your farming applications.

The Cat 299D3 Compact Track Loader is a very powerful model, perfect for larger-scale agricultural projects. Its vertical lift design can reach impressive heights, and it offers both the speed and stability you need to get the job done efficiently.

Should You Rent or Buy a Skid Steer for Your Farm?

When you want to get a skid steer or compact track loader for your agriculture operations, you’ll want to keep some key factors in mind to make the right buying decisions. Explore the following considerations for renting or buying a skid steer:

  • Long-term needs: Assess your future needs in the short and long term. If you need a skid steer regularly, purchasing may be the best option.
  • Budget: Evaluate your budget and the funds you have readily available for a new piece of heavy equipment. If you cannot cover the upfront investment of buying the machine, consider buying used or renting until you can purchase a skid steer.
  • Maintenance requirements: When you own your equipment, you are responsible for proactive upkeep and ongoing maintenance. Renting can reduce your responsibilities, and you can turn to the dealer for many of your equipment needs.

With these considerations in mind, you can make a more informed decision for your farm.

Explore Cat® Skid Steers From Holt of California

Explore Cat Skid Steers From Holt of California. Browse equipment!

Are you looking for reliable heavy equipment for your farm? Turn to a trusted dealer like Holt for California. We have the machines and attachments you need to get the job done and keep your agricultural operation performing at its best.

With Holt of California, finding the best Cat skid steer for farm use is simple. Whether you are looking for used or brand-new models, we have a wide selection of options for you to choose from.

Browse agriculture equipment from Holt of California or contact us to learn more today.

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