Key considerations for making your next tractor purchase.
“Tractors aren’t sexy.” Tell that to country music crooners and it’ll take a toll on their achy-breaky hearts. Tell that to cattlemen and they’ll agree it’s all about business when making an investment on a tractor for their operation.
Whether a cattle producer has 20 or 2,000 head, it’s important to figure out what is needed from a machine before beginning the search for a tractor.
“One of the first things to look at is how much you’re going to use the tractor and what you’re going to use it for,” says Justin Raski, mid-range tractor marketing manager in the Dairy and Livestock Brand Marketing division for New Holland Agriculture. “When it comes to size of the tractor it all depends on what you’re doing.”
This will help determine what size will be needed to adequately handle chores and run implements such as hay equipment and feed wagons. Buy a tractor too small and it’ll cost you on capabilities; buy one too big and pay extra for unnecessary power.
“When we talk to cattle producers, a key factor that plays in is how well it runs their power take-off (PTO) implements,” says Brad Tolbert, division marketing manager, John Deere Waterloo Tractor Works. “The answer lies in how much horsepower is needed to operate them.”
If a producer plans to trade out a single piece of his or her equipment fleet at a time, it is essential that future implement purchase decisions be kept in mind.
“If you’re looking to upgrade implements, look ahead,” Raski says. “The tractor has to be capable of lasting as well as being the correct size.”
In a recent survey conducted by Case IH, ease of maintenance is at the top of the list for livestock producers when it comes to equipment purchases.
If a producer plans on doing the majority of mechanical work himself, Raski recommends finding a more mechanical line that includes less electronics and more basic features.
“When you get into more modern tractors, everything tends to be more electronic, and unless you have certain equipment to troubleshoot, you’re going to need a dealer to help you,” he says. “But if you are only wanting to do simple service tasks like change the oil and filters yourself, leaving major mechanical work to someone else, having more electronics won’t be an issue.”
Over the years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been cracking down on emission requirements for non-road diesel engines by adopting a series of multiple emission standards. The first federal standard, Tier 1, was passed in 1994 to limit particulate matter emissions, and that was followed by the more stringent Tier 2 and Tier 3 standards. Due to sulfur content in non-road diesel fuels not being limited by environmental regulations for Tiers 1 through 3, the ruling of Tier 4 standards in 2004 called for more extensive engine redesign to work with new EPA sulfur-content restrictions.