Farm Uses for A Skid Steer

Farm Uses for A Skid Steer

Farming requires heavy machinery to complete an array of daily tasks, and the skid steer loader is equipped for the job. Many farmers and operators choose the skid steer loader for the bucket attachment that comes stock with most skid steer rentals. They’re often surprised when they learn about the wide range of attachments that can be fitted to their skid steer loader to dramatically increase the number of tasks it can perform. 

Whether your area of focus is livestock management or agriculture, skid steer loaders and their attachments can be of use any time of year. From snow plows and grass mowers to trenchers and augers, skid steer attachments can save you a lot of time and money on your farming tasks.

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What Is a Skid Steer?

Skid steer loaders are cost-effective pieces of heavy machinery that have become irreplaceable on many farms. Their simplicity and versatility make them useful for nearly every task farmers need to perform daily. Skid steer loaders have the advantage that they can be fitted with a wide range of attachments, significantly increasing the number of tasks they can perform. The efficiency at which these attachments can perform each task is truly impressive.

When comparing other compact equipment for farm use, you might wonder how a skid steer differs from compact wheel loaders or multi-terrain loaders. The main difference between a skid steer loader and a compact wheel loader is that you steer a skid steer by essentially skidding the left and right wheels. Compact wheel loaders have an articulated steering system, allowing the front wheels to turn independently from the rear wheels, similar to how a car or a truck steers.

One of the most useful options for farmers is to rent a skid steer loader as needed. The versatility of renting allows a farmer to rent the skid steer for any length of time that suits them to get their project done. The rental store will also deliver the machine directly to the farm and pick it up when the work is complete.

Renting also saves on various costs typically associated with ownership, including maintenance, secure storage, parts replacement, insurance and transportation, making it an attractive option to most farmers.

Top Ways to Use Skid Steers for Farms

On any given day, farmers need to tackle a wide variety of tasks, including unexpected duties that require the right tools for the job. Most daily tasks involve hauling heavy materials, like dirt, soil, livestock feed, hay and other pieces of equipment. To haul and move materials safely and efficiently, farmers need machinery specifically designed to lift and load at the right capacity. A skid steer for farm use was designed for exactly that purpose. 

Equipped with a front-load bucket, skid steer loaders can haul nearly any material or heavy object with ease. You can also outfit them with an impressive array of attachments, completely changing the abilities of the skid steer loader. Ranging from earthmoving to livestock management to hay baling to landscaping, the skid steer loader is an extremely versatile machine that can be adapted to perform nearly any task a farmer might face:

1. Earthmoving

Farm operations require the ability to move dirt, rocks and sand around. Skid steer loaders have been designed fundamentally to carry out this task. Their low center of gravity means they can pick up heavy loads with their front bucket and remain stable while traveling over sloped ground. Their buckets are designed to maximize carrying capacity with materials such as dirt and sand without spilling. 

There are two main types of buckets skid steer loaders come equipped with — standard and tooth. Standard buckets have a smooth, sharp surface on the leading edge. They’re ideal for scraping the ground to remove the top layer of soil or for carefully maneuvering the machine to pick up larger objects, like rocks or tree stumps. 

The tooth bucket has eight to 10 teeth that protrude from the leading edge of the bucket. These teeth help the bucket dig into stubborn material, like compacted bark mulch, clay or rooty soil with thick, tough plant matter. The teeth work similarly to a serrated edge on a knife blade. They help the bucket chew into materials that might be difficult to remove with the smooth bucket edge alone.

2. Livestock Management

Any farmer tasked with taking care of livestock knows how much work is involved. From feeding to manure cleanup, the aid of a skid steer machine makes life much easier. Skid steer loaders perform duties like hauling feed with a bucket attachment or erecting protective fences with an auger attachment. 

When animal feed arrives on-site at your farm, it gets stored in a safe location to keep it out of the elements and away from pests, like mice or raccoons. The problem with this type of storage is that you need to manually transport the feed to your livestock every day at dawn and dusk. Skid steer loaders can provide huge assistance to farmers needing to distribute feed to larger numbers of livestock. In many cases, using a manual tool like a wheelbarrow or bucket simply isn’t an option for most farmers. 

3. Hay Baling

Making use of every square foot of property is essential for a farm to be successful. Growing your own hay is an excellent way to use parts of your property that aren’t in immediate use. Skid steer loaders and their host of attachments can greatly aid in hay cultivation and management. From cutting the hay to transporting bales, there is an attachment that can transform your skid steer loader into an essential hay management machine.

If you choose to purchase your hay instead of growing your own, you’ll notice that it arrives in many different forms. Hay can be ordered in pellet form, which usually arrives in large tote bags. As these bags tend to be extremely bulky and heavy, farmers need a way to transport them around, such as a skid steer. 

Hay can also be purchased in bails ranging in size from a hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. It’s much easier to use machinery like a skid steer loader to transport hay bails when they arrive on-site and during your daily feeding times.

4. Mowing and Brush Cleanup

As most landowners know, brush and grass cleanup is a necessary task to ensure your property is kept neat and tidy. Overgrown areas can welcome unwanted pests and animals, wreaking havoc on building structures and materials storage, such as feed and supplies. Mowing is a maintenance operation done frequently in the summer to make sure grass doesn’t grow out of control. Skid steer mower attachments are perfect for this task. 

When larger and more aggressive vegetation moves in, there are skid steer attachments like brushcutters and flail mowers designed to chop through thicker plant and tree stocks and chew them up. The brushcutter acts as a mulcher, chewing up vegetation and allowing it to return to the earth to degrade. Farmers can recycle the mulch as fertilizer as it decomposes, helping nurture the remaining grass and plant life.

5. Grading and Road Maintenance

Farm operations rely on access to each part of the farm to transport essential materials and pieces of equipment. Having adequate roads ensures ongoing access during day-to-day operations and in the case of emergencies. In the summer months, fires may become a concern, especially in locations like silos and barns. These structures store large amounts of flammable materials such as grain, hay and fuels. It’s essential to have well-maintained roadways to reach these locations if a fire starts.

Skid steer loaders provide the power and versatility to construct and continually maintain roads around a farmyard. Farmers can benefit from a standard bucket or blade for grading operations to smooth out roads and remove potholes. Otherwise, attachments like saws and brushcutters help remove vegetation and widen roads, making the skid steer an essential tool in road management on farms.

6. Seeding and Fertilizing

Agricultural development is an essential operation for most farmers. They rely on their crops to yield vegetation such as hay, fruits and vegetables to feed their livestock and sell for a profit. These agricultural activities require transporting materials and resources, usually spread out over a large area. Attempting to transport these materials by hand is not practical. Skid steers in agriculture provide the power and transportation speed to haul large amounts of materials around an area very quickly.

Every season, farmers who wish to grow hay crops must scatter seed throughout their fields to begin the process. Many hundreds or even thousands of pounds of seed are needed to sufficiently cover a field. This task can only be performed by a piece of equipment like a skid steer loader with a bucket or hopper attachment to haul and scatter seed.

Fertilizer, whether in granular form or mixed into a water supply, must also be delivered to a wide-ranging area, reaching each plant and ensuring the crop receives the proper nutrients to grow. Skid steer loaders are designed to carry large amounts of weight over long distances and can perform this task with ease.

7. Warehouse Organization

Larger farming operations require logistic solutions like warehouse storage to keep everything organized and accessible for day-to-day operations. Often, racks are used to store goods, requiring wooden pallets or plastic bins to make the rack systems more versatile. 

Given that pallets and bins can become very heavy when filled with materials, products or parts, heavy machinery is necessary to lift them into place and store them in a rack system. Forklifts are often the piece of machinery larger commercial warehouses use to perform this task, but they are a relatively specialized piece of machinery. 

Farmers may not have the luxury of investing in multiple pieces of equipment to perform every task. Thankfully, you can fit your skid steer loader with pallet forks and easily perform a similar function as forklifts. This provides the versatility of a forklift without having to invest in a new piece of large machinery.

8. Seasonal Maintenance 

The weather has a lot to do with which farming activities can be done during the different seasons. Summer and spring both provide excellent weather where you can perform the majority of farming operations. Fall and winter usher in cold weather, limiting the number of tasks you can manage. 

Skid steers for the farm can provide a helping hand no matter the season by swapping out different attachments for each task. In the winter months, snowfall is one of the most inhibiting realities a farmer encounters, and it’s important to have a solution when it arrives. Snow plows and pushes allow snow to be removed quickly to free up ground for other activities or to clear roadways so other machinery and vehicles can have easy access.

Top Skid Steer Attachments for Farm Use

Given their wide range of farming duties, farmers need to make the most of their heavy equipment. Since skid steers are universally compatible with such a tremendous range of attachments, they’re one of the best machines farmers can rent. Let’s examine the range of work tools that can help farmers accomplish essential farm duties: 

1. Augers

When it comes to drilling holes into the ground, auger attachments are the most effective tools to use. Whether you’re drilling holes to install fence posts around the perimeter of your property or to install a structural post, augers will make quick work of the project.

The reason augers are so efficient at creating fence post holes is because they only displace the amount of soil required to bury the post. If an operator were to use an excavator bucket to dig a hole deep enough to bury a fence post, they would need to displace significantly larger amounts of dirt. This requires unnecessary time and effort.

Once the skid-steer-mounted auger has finished drilling the hole to the adequate depth, the post can be inserted and backfilled with soil or concrete to secure it in place. After backfill and tamping operations are complete, there is no extra dirt or material that needs to be carried away. 

2. Backhoe Arms

One of the biggest reasons farmers choose a backhoe loader over a skid steer loader is the ability to run an excavator or backhoe arm for use on their property. With a backhoe attachment, any skid steer loader can be converted into a backhoe in just a few minutes. 

The backhoe attachment gives several distinct advantages over a typical bucket and can be used for more precision operations, including:

  • Digging trenches 
  • Uprooting tree stumps
  • Tree-planting
  • Digging holes for building foundations

Backhoe attachments can provide the versatility of having another piece of machinery on hand without the extra cost and maintenance associated with it. For these reasons, backhoe attachments are essential tools farmers should always keep close by.

3. Bale Grabs and Spears

Many farmers either import hay to feed their livestock or grow it themselves to offset their costs. It’s essential they have the proper tools on hand to appropriately transport the bales around their property. Hay bales come in a variety of sizes, ranging from a few hundred pounds, which may be lifted manually, to several thousand pounds, which requires heavy machinery to move safely. Bale grab and spear attachments are the easy and convenient solution to your hay handling needs.

Bale grab attachments work by squeezing the bale in between two arms, keeping it firmly in place while the skid steer drives to the desired location. Bale spear attachments work by piercing bales with an arm and then rotating the attachment so the weight of the bale rests on the attachment. The skid steer can then maneuver around and deliver the bale where it’s needed.

4. Brushcutters and Flail Mowers

Removing excess vegetation from unwanted areas is a task all farmers are familiar with. If vegetation is left to grow unchecked, it can create impenetrable areas, restrict access and render land unusable. Similarly, grass must be cut frequently to ensure it doesn’t overgrow.

Brushcutting attachments are perfect for clearing large amounts of overgrown vegetation quickly with their powerful blades. When it comes to mowing, flail mower attachments are excellent at cutting grass and even light tree branches. Flail mowers are also useful in cutting back vegetation that’s threatening to overgrow road sides.

5. Tillers and Trenchers

Crop rotation is essential for any farmer who wants to preserve their soil and maintain healthy growing conditions long-term. One of the best ways to help the soil breathe and ensure the nutrients are easily accessible for a new growing season is to till the earth using a tiller attachment. Tillers use a series of metal pieces that chew into the earth and turn it over. They cut through roots and other organic matter that can then be recycled, further promoting a healthy growing environment. 

Another extremely useful work tool for your skid steer loader is a trencher attachment. Trenchers allow you to create deep trenches, which can be used to bury everything from electrical conduit piping to irrigation and fuel piping. This allows the piping to reside underground, out of the way of traffic and livestock.

6. Snow Plows and Pushes

Seasonal weather can be made easier by employing the full capability of your skid steer loader. In particular, snow plows and snow pushes make quick work of snow cleanup.

Snow plow attachments are designed to optimize the way snow glides off the surface of the plow so it can handle large amounts of snow without bogging down your skid steer loader. Often, farmers think they can use the standard bucket for all their snow removal needs. In reality, their work may be far easier with a snow plow work tool.

Snow push attachments work similarly to the standard buckets that are found on skid steer loaders. However, they’re designed with higher sides and a sloped inner surface, helping funnel the snow back in front of the loader to optimize the skid steer’s traction. Snow push attachments are useful in creating one continuous path for travel. They don’t offload the snow to either side of the push like a snow plow attachment does. They simply push it forward in a straight line.

Choose The Cat® Rental Store for Farming Skid Steers and Attachments

You can trust The Cat® Rental Store for reliable skid steer loaders and a wide range of work tools to assist you in your farming operations. With the widest selection available from any equipment rental dealer, our dealers can help you select the right attachment to help you complete your tasks with ease. 

For more information on skid steers for farm uses, visit one of our dealer's convenient locations today or give us a call at 1-800-RENT-CAT.

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