Tractor for 15ac farm?

Hi all, I’m buying a 15ac farm soon and the mowing is mostly flat with few tighter turns. I don’t think I’ll need to bush hog more than once. I only feed squares, for manure I will need to spread or dump it over the cliff in my property. I will also need to put up electric fencing to replace the top barbed wire strand. I don’t need to dig holes, I do need to remove a down tree.
So far looks like Kioti, Kubota, and John Deere are top contenders. Kubota has killer financing. John Deere has great equine discounts.

What do you recc? Warranties, implements, insurances, price point?

If you want it to last and not break - Kubota.
If you want cheap - either of the others.

Also check out the dealerships in the area, cos you need to keep whichever you get, properly serviced.

You will need to bush hog more than once.

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As above. Also agree that mowing pasture is done at least once every year, not just once. Mow after horses have finished grazing it- to mow down what horses don’t eat to avoid unpalatable grasses and weeds from going to seed and taking over your pasture.
We have several tractors, two big ones (90 horse +) for haying- you won’t need that. “My” tractor is a 32 horse Kubota with FEL. It’s big enough to be useful, but small enough to be handy. Big enough to pick up 600 lb round bales, transport gravel/sand, etc. But economical on fuel. Tight turning radius. We bought it in 1997, with about 20 hours on it, had been a demo at a fall fair. We’ve spent money on it once at a dealer for repair, other than that, the DH does the basic stuff, but complains that it is tight working conditions, hard to get at things to work on it. He hates it, calls it a “toy tractor”. Which it is, compared to the bigger ones, but it’s handy, and I do a LOT of things with it. Rototill gardens, harrow the ring, brush hog, some snow ploughing with the back blade, move dirt, manure, gravel, hay bales (as well as the raking of hay in all fields, and run the ancient small square baler for the smaller grass fields that I bale). So it’s a handy tractor, especially for a smaller farm.

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The cheapest and easiest way to improve pasture is to mow often. The idea is to cut weeds before they can set seed, and to encourage the good grasses to spread.

So I would recommend bush hogging often. On my similarly sized farmette, with about 10 acres in pasture, I mow weekly in the growing season.

I have a older Ford tractor, 45 hp with a big FEL and we have loved it, and wouldn’t want anything much smaller.

That said, if you’re not feeding big round bales or doing a lot of grading, you can probably manage with less tractor.

I agree with the comment above about going with something you can get parts and service for locally.

Lots of people I know have been very happy with their Kubotas. If you have a dealership nearby, that may be the way to go.

I should clarify. I intend to mow frequently. But I don’t see the need to bush hog more than once based on how well maintained this place is. There are a few corners with small weedy shrubs that don’t really need a huge cut down- 6 inches tallest.
So with that clarified, what kind of mower attachment should I buy? Is it possible to rent bush hog attachment for the few times I’ll need it?
Front loader- what kind?
Can I rent a back hoe attachment if needed?
Luckily I have a kubota dealership super close
Warranties?
Insurance?

Thank you so far for replies

We have a JD 2320 and 15 acres and it does a great job. It can run a 4’ rotary mower, takes a belly mower, pulls a Millcreek PTO spreader. Has a FEL with a 4’ bucket, and we also have pallet forks which are super handy.

Ask around about service. Who is good for service, who’s a pain in the ass. You can have a great tractor, but you’ll hate it if your local service center is a pita to work with.

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Agree with others have said about finding a good dealership with service close by - things will break, and finding someone to reliably repair is important.
For maintaining pasture quality - clipping weeds before they go to seed is important (thistle, etc), but also rotationally grazing can be a good tool as well - moving the animals around. Don’t overgraze or clip to low.

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Re backhoe: when I was shopping Kubotas, to get one on the 25-30 hp models I looked at, a special, bulky frame had to be installed and looked pretty permanent. Didn’t seem like something you could take on and off casually. The salesman recommended against getting a backhoe for only sporadic use because the frame would always be there. I also got the impression the backhoe put a lot of wear and tear on the body of the tractor. I didn’t get one and just hired out the backhoe work.

There are models made with a factory-installed backhoe for people who need them. I think Kubota calls theirs “TLB” = Tractor-Loader-Backhoe. Made for e.g. construction. There is also a little Kubota with one, for landscapers. Again, purpose-built.

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Let’s go back to the definition of mowing … mowing is close cut for lawn grass. Bush (or brush) hogging is for brush/and field cuts. Are you planning on a side mount mower for the tractor?

I just bought an ATV instead of a tractor and I am loving it! I bought a tow-behind mower to cut my pasture. The mower I bought is smaller than a brush hog so more passes are required to cut - I’m only mowing about 5 acres of pasture with it. I have a winch on the front and have used it to clear downed trees. It’s great for harrowing trails and plowing snow in the winter. I haven’t bought a spreader for it yet but I’m sure it could do that too. I’ve got a little dump trailer for it, which is awesome too. I went for an ATV because it can do more of the sort of work that I want and it was significantly less expensive than a tractor. If you consider an ATV or a side-by-side, power steering is a must!

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I love my little 25hp Massey Ferguson with FEL and 60” belly mower for a set up similar to yours. I don’t have enough savvy to be brand loyal to green or orange. I’d buy what you can get serviced locally without a big hassle.

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Bush hog for pasture - mower for the yard.
Sickle bar/disc mower for hay.

Tractor;

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We went with LS tractor, and 2 yrs later we’re still very happy with it .Great tractor, great dealership.

Seriously, just get the rotary mower – it’s not that expensive, can be stored outside under a tarp, and often the tractor dealer will include a heaviy discounted mower it in the package. I wouldn’t rent-- you’ll spend more in time and delivery costs than it’s worth. Bush hogging isn’t limited to cutting down wild overgrowth - we use ours to mow our very well-maintained pastures. But yes, it produces a “field cut” or “rough cut” appearance. It’s tidy and maintained, but not a pristine golf course kind of look.

An alternative is getting a gas-powered pull-behind mower that you tow with an ATV/UTV. We used a 44" Swisher trailcutter to mow pastures for years until we got the tractor+bushhog. The trail cutter is handy but not as powerful as PTO-driven mower, you have to go quite slow, and the 44" deck means it takes a lot more passes to cover the whole pasture. And in the spring, when you have heavy lush pasture growth, the trailcutter really labors to get through the thick parts, and leaves messy clumps behind that you have to mow over 2x, so it doesn’t turn into thick thatch. The PTO-mower doesn’t so much as blink at that stuff and doesn’t leave clumps behind.

An FEL is essential tool, you definitely want that. And we purchased some bolt-on fork attachments for our bucket (from Titan) that have been a incredibly useful. I use them all the time. BUT, I will probably replace them with a “Debris Fork” attachment, which will let me pick up a wider variety of crap than just the pallet forks. I’ll keep those on hand for unloading trucks, moving large logs, etc, but the debris fork will probably be my go-to implement for property cleanup.

We also got the backhoe attachment with our package, since we knew we had numerous drainage projects and stumps to pull. So for $5k extra, the backhoe has totally paid for itself for us-- not to mention we’re suddenly the favorite neighbor for everyone who needs a hole dug. :laughing: But it’s definitely in the ‘Nice to have’ category, not essential. Ours is pretty straightforward to put on & drop off, no heavy labor involved. It’s a blast to use.

Warranty isn’t really negotiable, that’s all set by the manufacturer, and they’re pretty standard across the various makes, if I recall. More important, as others have said, is that you have a dealer within economic distance to get it serviced.

Insurance-- your homeowners policy will cover it, no special policy riders needed.

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best read your policy as my coverage limits the value to $3000

cut from my policy "COVERAGE C - Personal Property Protection, item #11

$3,000 for motorized vehicles designed or modified to operate at speeds not to subject to the provisions under Special exceed 15 miles per hour and for use off Amounts of Insurance. public roads.

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If you get an Farm/Estate Policy it will be covered along with home, barns, liability for animals and everything else you need to cover.

Kubota also has a 20% discount if you have certain equine memberships. USEF worked for us.