Zero turn or mower for my subcompact tractor

I have a teeny tractor. It was great at my old property, but I never needed to mow so I didn’t get a mower.

Now I have a much bigger parcel and I’m trying to decide how I want to mow my 6 acre pasture.

I honestly am not sure I want to keep the subcompact tractor longer term, but I’m also not in a position right now where I think I can buy a bigger tractor.

So I’m trying to decide if I should get a mower for my tractor or just buy a zero turn.

Looking for advice/experience/guesstimates at how long either the mower or tractor would take me to do 6 acres.

We have the smallest Kubota sub compact tractor with a mid-mount mower. I use it to manage our 5 acre farmette. I mow two, 2 acre pastures as well as our large lawn and driveway area. It does a great job- 5 inches is the highest mower setting so pastures are in good shape. It takes about an hour to do each of my pastures. It’s a 54” mower deck.

I’d guess a mower attachment would be much less expensive than a zero turn and you’d still have the tractor capabilities.


I don’t know if there’s a zero turn that mows higher than 4.5" We looked for a long time and that was pretty standard. Most grasses shouldn’t be mowed that low, so that’s a consideration

Hubby has been mowing our pasture with the ZT this Summer because the tractor starter is messed up and we’re having a bear of a time trying to get it worked on. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

I agree with Calvin, that even a finish mower is cheaper than a good quality zero turn, and you still have the tractor to do things a ZT can’t or shouldn’t do (like pull much of anything).

If you want to get your mowing done in a hurry then you want a zero turn. They are much faster than a tractor, and much more maneuverable. My zero turn will mow as high as 5”, which works fine on my bahia grass.

If you are more concerned about money than time I would think that a mower attachment for your tractor will be much cheaper than a zero turn mower.

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This ^^. The zero turn cuts too short for pasture grass. And if you raise it as high as it will go, it does not work well, it wants to lay the grass over and not cut it, so you have to make multiple passes. (Yes the blades are sharp. It’s a matter of the deck being too high and the physics of the blades and the air movement not working optimally.). Zero turns work great for lawns and golf courses!

I vote for a brush hog or finish mower for your tractor. I would not put a belly mower on it.

Ditto what Pico_Banana said below. The ZT is incredibly bouncy if your pastures are not flat.

I have a compact Kubota with a rotary mower (48" LandPride) and a Kubota zero turn. I use the tractor for pastures and the ZT for our yard. I don’t think I would like to mow the big pasture with the ZT as I personally find it very bouncy in the regular lawn (I am very sensitive to concussive forces) and my pastures are not very even, so I imagine it would be even bouncier. So I would definitely go with a mower attachment for this reason alone.

what do you have?

Another thing to consider which we didn’t know about, which is the ONLY reason Mr JB has been mowing the pasture:

What’s the weight requirement (not limit, the minimum requirement) of the ZT?

We discovered after the fact that ours, a DeWalt, is 150lb. Can you imagine how many women that leaves out? I weighed 125 when we got it. I’m now in the 112-115 range (after going through a food elimination protocol, holy cow that was magic). I wasn’t about to sit on a 25lb weight, or strap one on top of my legs, and I’m for SURE not about to consider even more weight, so I can’t use the mower :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

With ours, that only applies to stalkier weeds, like plantain seed stalks. It has cut taller pasture grass really well, even if DH couldn’t go full speed (but he wasn’t crawling either, not by any means)

I think it depends on what you get. Some are “professional” quality, made for the guys who spend hours every day mowing what isn’t always nice smooth property. Our pasture isn’t TOO bad, but it’s not smooth either, I can get bounced around in the tractor (Ford 4000, so not a dainty thing) in a few places, and hubby doesn’t have a real problem. We did get a higher end Dewalt, which has better suspensions for that very reason. We got it primarily to mow our yard and fencelines and roadside areas, but it HAD to be able to mow pasture if needed.

OP, how small is your tractor and does it have a mid PTO? I have a 25 HP Massey with a 60” belly mower and I do well keeping up with 5 acres. If I get behind it will bog down in tall grass but I’ve found it manageable. I don’t have the HP to let it get tall and run a rotary mower (maybe 48”? but that would tedious for 6 acres).

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We had both a JD tractor w a belly mower and a JD commercial grade zero turn. No one ever wanted to use the belly mower after we got the zero turn. It’s significantly faster; we mow almost everything w it now. The commercial grade blades are heavier than the belly mower. We also have another JD tractor and brush hog we can use if necessary.

We have a commercial grade Kubota. It is a diesel.

I have a SCAG Cheetah and with the deck all the way up it is at 6". I used to mow with a small Kubota (24 HP) and rear deck. When I got rid of that my wife suggested a zero turn. I was skeptical but it has been awesome. It takes me about half the time to mow the pastures. If the grass is long and wet I will tie the discharge flap up to keep the cuttings from binding up.

If you go for a zero turn for mowing pastures don’t go for a homeowners version, go commercial. When I was looking I got down to the SCAG and a Farris. Make sure all adjustments are rugged and not dependent on dials.

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Oh that’s awesome! We did look at SCAG but couldn’t find anyone around with one, or who could deliver in a timely manner. I don’t remember the 6" height but that would have been awesome. Our riding mower had crapped out and it is a LOT to mow with a push mower, so we didn’t have a huge amount of time to find the perfect one

You are very right about the commercial vs “homeowner”. Go professional/commercial, they have the suspension for more, and more rugged work

Get a mower for the tractor. We used our commercial grade ZT mower to do pastures for a few weeks (till we bought a tractor and bush hog), and while it did the job, my kidneys took a pounding. Unless your pasture is as smooth as a lawn it will probably be uncomfortable cutting it with a ZT mower, and in my case at least, it took longer too.

I have this tow-behind mower that cuts as high as 7 inches. I bought it last fall so I don’t have a ton of experience with it but it works well for the pasture and for cutting trails. I tow it behind an ATV but I’m sure it could be towed behind a tractor.

I considered a zero turn instead of the ATV plus mower but decided against the ZT because I wasn’t convinced the shocks could hold up in my rough field and the ATV is more versatile.

We got a semi-pro zero turn as we have a large zoysia front yard. We have just under 6 acres and I mow all the pastures with it. It’s pretty quick; I haven’t timed it, yet I know it’s a few hours. The deck goes up to 5 3/4", but I’ve only been able to raise it to 5 1/2." We also use the zero turn to pull the sprayer and spreader. Our seat adjusts to the rider’s weight, just dial it in. We’ve been happy. Whatever works for you is best! Good luck!

thanks for everyone weighing in! I hadn’t considered the mowing height or the weight minimums. Gah! Feels like the best thing would be to trade in for a bigger tractor, and get a mower.

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I have a finish mower, cuts like a regular lawn mower, very fine and smooth. Height is adjustable from a couple inches to 6 inches high for my pastures. It follows the tractor using PTO power. It has more than a couple blades for that smooth cutting finish.

Not sure if it goes under rotary mower name in other locations, but they are called finish mowers locally. We have used it on lawns for son when his mowers are dead, lawn looked nice. Does not cut real well on really tall, over 9 inches and thick, grasses. I will cut that again a couple days later, for a smoother look if fields get ahead of me…

I want my pastures cut higher to protect the roots, not shock the plants with large amount of leaf removal at once. We rely heavily on pasture grazing for our summer feeding, so I want to mow properly for best results.

One last suggestion is getting the finish mower with a side exhaust chute. This prevents cut material from making windrows laying on the grass, smothering it. Side chute spreads the cuttings evenly for fast drying and breaking down back to dirt. Leaving your grass cuttings lay, results in a value of a fertilizer application each season, nutrients returned to the soil!

I like my mower being seperate, since our smal ltractor gets a lot of use in various other ways daily.

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