Choosing the Right Tractor for Your Horse Ranch - Douglas Lake Equipment & Avenue Machinery
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Choosing the Right Tractor for Your Horse Ranch

By Barry Tallman

Horses are amazing creatures. And it’s no wonder why we humans have been fascinated by them for thousands of years.

Still, taking care of a horse is definitely more difficult than, say, taking care of your chocolate lab. Need to feed your lab? Bring over the handy bag of kibble. Need to feed your horse? Well, that’s where it gets complicated.

And it’s really this decision that will ultimately determine what kind of tractor you will need to take care of your horses. When it comes to feeding your horses, it comes down to two options:

  1. Grow your own hay for feed.
  2. Buy feed from an outside source.

If you are planning to grow hay for your horses…

Then what you will need a tractor that can support haying tools such as your rakes, tedders, mowers, and balers.

Typically this means you will need a tractor that’s in the 40-100 Horsepower range. This will be able to give you enough Power Take Off (PTO) to run your haying implements AND have the power to lift the heavy hay bails. Go with anything smaller and your tractor may not have the power necessary to run what you need.

This means that you should start looking at Kubota M60 tractor or a M6s or a New Holland Workmaster 70 or all the way up to a T5 series tractor.

If you are planning to buy your horses feed…

Then you don’t need such a powerful tractor as using hay tools and other implements aren’t as necessary. All you would need your tractor to do is to move feed from one end of the barn to the other, level out stalls, or occasionally fix potholes or other maintenance around the property.

In this scenario, you could easily get away with a 25-50 HP tractor. Kubota’s B series, L series or MX series would be perfect for this scenario.

The added benefit to these smaller tractors is that they are MUCH easier to run than their bigger cousins. Typically equipped with Hydrostatic transmissions, power steering, and good visibility, these smaller tractors are really easy to use and manage.

Some other interesting things to consider

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. Some other things to consider is land size, topography, and (a rarely discussed point) building configuration on your ranch.

If you’re planning to grow your own hay and if your ranch is large and hilly, then we recommend that a larger more robust tractor. Hilly terrain most likely means that your tractor will need to pull heavy implements up and down these hills. Additionally, hills also mean that the tractor has to be heavy enough to get enough traction in the soft dirt.

However, there is something to be said for going on the smaller side – even if you grow your own hay – and that has more to do with how your buildings are configured on your ranch. There are countless times where I’ve recommended a smaller tractor to a rancher simply because the configuration of his buildings would have made him do a 4 point turn on a regular basis.

Trust me, life is good until you need to do about 10 4-point turns a day, then you’d wish you have gotten something smaller.

Life with horses is a life well spent! Now let’s make sure you get the right equipment to make the best of it.

Barry Tallman is a Customer Account Manager at Douglas Lake Equipment Kamloops. Barry has been with Douglas Lake since 2018 but has had over 22 years of industry experience. In fact, Barry grew up on a dairy farm where he spent most of his teen years milking cows and doing fieldwork.

Stock image from senivpetro / Freepik