On The Level: Compact Wheel Loaders vs. Skid Steers on the Farm
On The Level: Compact Wheel Loaders vs. Skid Steers on the Farm

Compact Wheel Loaders vs. Skid Steers on the Farm

Ben Rice | Agriculture Industry Representative

Buying farm machinery is not an easy decision, and it’s important to carefully consider your options in order to get the most from your machines. Cat® Compact Wheel Loaders, Skid Steer and Track Loaders are all great options for the farm, but while you’re shopping, keep in mind things like upfront vs. ownership cost, the types of jobs you’ll be doing and the versatility you need from a machine.

Upfront Cost vs. Ownership Cost for Farm Machinery

Generally, compact wheel loaders have a higher upfront cost than skid steer loaders, but a lower overall ownership cost. Here are a couple reasons why:

  • Fuel consumption – Skid steers tend to be operated at maximum throttle, using more fuel than a compact wheel loader, which has brake and gas pedals. However, Cat Skid Steer Loaders have an acceleration pedal so operators can stay at a lower throttle but still get added power when needed.
  • Tire wear – The tires on a skid steer loader also need to be replaced more often since the machine skids across the ground when turning (hence the name), instead of having a pivot point like a compact wheel loader.

Applications and Terrain

Two additional factors in choosing new farm machinery are the types of applications you’ll be using it for and the terrain you’ll be operating on.

Considering the application:

  • Many farmers find skid loaders and track loaders useful for clearing out the barn, digging and snow removal since they’re low to the ground.
  • Skid steer and track loaders also have the advantage of being able to fit and maneuver in tight spaces, unlike compact wheel loaders. So if space is an issue on your farm, that’s something to keep in mind.
  • Compact wheel loaders are often used for moving pallets or loading trucks. Their higher vantage point and 360 degrees of visibility help operators do the work safely.

Considering the terrain:

  • If you live somewhere that sees a lot of snow each year, a wheeled machine like a compact wheel loader is a good option.
  • For places with rough terrain, tracks work best.

Agricultural Machine Versatility

The great thing about all of these agriculture machines is their versatility. Skid steer loaders and track loaders can use different attachments that help with everything from digging post holes for fencing to moving hay bales. And compact wheel loaders fitted with a skid steer coupler can use the same attachments. This is a plus for those of you who may be interested in adding one of these machines to your existing equipment fleet. By sharing attachments across skid steer loaders and compact wheel loaders, you can tackle multiple jobs on the farm at once.

To learn more about the equipment we offer for the agriculture industry, visit https://www.cat.com/en_US/by-industry/agriculture.html.


Blog author Caitlin Maddock-Bahr

Ben Rice

Agriculture Industry Representative

Having spent his formative years on a tobacco farm, Ben Rice went on in the agriculture field to earn degrees in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science from North Carolina State University. Rice now brings his invaluable expertise to Caterpillar as an industry sales and service representative.

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