Skid Steer Brush Control Setup under $15K?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by TXaggie418, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. TXaggie418

    TXaggie418 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    Hello All,

    I am new to the site but have read many posts. This site represents a tremendous collective knowledge of subjects, that's for sure.

    I have a 160 acre farm just east of Dallas that I want to do my own brush control on. About half of it is uncut hardwood bottom, and the other half is pasture. No brush control treatments of any kind have been done to the place in the 11 years I've owned it. The woods are mostly overgrown and impenetrable with numerous small hardwoods and cedar mostly under 6". The pasture is increasingly overgrown with mesquite ranging up to about 12" trunk diameter, although the majority of them are between 2"-6". After pricing what it would cost me to clean up the mesquites in the pasture and put in a trails in the woods, it occurred to me I could do the work myself AND pay for a skid steer w/ a couple of attachments so I could do future brush control myself as needed and already have the equipment. I am not going into business, but rather just a landowner that would like to do his own brush control. That means time efficiency isn't really an issue since I enjoy working on the farm as a hobby. In fact, I'd like to use the smallest, lowest power option that is reasonable to keep costs down.

    Here's what I'm thinking: a used Bobcat 763 with a 60-72" rotary brush hog, a tree shear capable of cutting 10" trees (the few large mesquites I'll probably leave for wildlife cover), and a brush/root grapple for piling the mesquites after cutting. I'm looking for decent used equipment. I do plan to use Remedy & diesel on the mesquite stumps to keep them from resprouting. In the woods, trees larger than 4" are pretty widely spaced, so I won't need a mower to cut anything larger than about 4" diameter to be able to put in good trails.

    What I'm really in the dark about is the rough-terrain capabilities of a skid steer. I have lots of farm tractor experience and from that I know you need to be extra careful when working on slopes or areas with poor traction or loose soil, but I have no experience with skid steers. My place isn't too hilly, maybe a maximum of 20% grades where the pastures descends down into the bottoms, but most of the slopes are 10% or less. Three quarters of the whole 160 is probably less than 2% grade so it's basically pretty flat but with a few steeper areas with some rougher terrain. From reading the posts on this site, it seems that a longer wheelbase and wider stance is better for rough terrain, and tracks-over-tires is best (true track loaders are beyond my budget, I can tell that already!). Down in the bottoms, there are large roots, fallen trees, soft spots (nothing swampy though) that I'll have to negotiate over or around.

    The 763 has a pretty short wheelbase. Will this be a problem? I want to keep it simple, so I'm looking for non-turbo, mechanical controls, and likely standard hydraulics. Radial lift should be fine, (and simpler, right?) since I won't be using the skid steer for much load carrying work anyway. I'm thinking over-the-tire tracks to give me better stability and traction, especially in the woods.

    And, last, but not least, I'd like to keep everything under $15K, although I might have to go up to $20 max if I need to to get all the right attachments which I see are not cheap.

    Does this sound like a reasonable plan? Are there other brands of skid steers I should consider that would fit my intended use? The Volvo M60 and Cat 221 seem about right for my job. Are these better than the 763 and can I find them used?

    Thanks for your advice and all the help you've given others on this website!

  2. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    A quality rotary mower will set you back 10K.

    You need too budget more money.

    You need a used dozer or a loader and push everything up and burn it.
    Then maintain it with a tractor and bushhog.
  3. TXaggie418

    TXaggie418 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    That would be the easy way to do it, you are right, but that would cause too much soil disturbance. I should have mentioned that in the original post. There is good native prarie grass pasture going strong (but not for much longer with those mesquites encroaching) and a dozer would tear that up. And in the woods, all I want are walking trails. I figure the mower would have the effect of partly mulching the material. Aren't there decent smallish rotary mowers for less than $10k, especially used?
  4. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    With this size trees? Good luck.

    You would have better luck just sawing the trees down and pushing into piles.
  5. TXaggie418

    TXaggie418 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    "Here's what I'm thinking: a used Bobcat 763 with a 60-72" rotary brush hog, a tree shear capable of cutting 10" trees (the few large mesquites I'll probably leave for wildlife cover)."

    The rotary mower would be used in the woods on 4" trees and smaller only. A tree shear would be used for the all the larger trees over 4" up to about 10."
  6. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    Sounds like a plan.

    Good luck.

    However I actually do this for a living and none of plan is based on "Real World"

    The Bobcat is too small as is the budget.

    Step up too a 80 hp High flow machine and about 20k worth of attachments and steel tracks and get too work.

    50k should be enough if you find the right machine.
    You will need an enclosed cab.

    I would use a Tractor and a heavy duty cutter.
    I cut up too 4+ inch stuff with mine.

    Might squeeze that in your budget.

    A good 60 too 80 hp tractor and a 6 foot cutter will do the job and do it faster than a skid.
  7. gammon landscaping

    gammon landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 550

    forget about the shear just chain saw the big stuff or push it over( never seen a mesquete bush) i would think that just a bucket would do fine here for the trails maybe a 4 in 1 steel tracks are going to tear up that grass almost as bad as a big loader. i would look for a 933-939 cat loader. a loader has alot slicker pads than a dozer and doesn't tear up the ground nearly as bad. also think about the cat 236 its got 70 hp and when it is set up for tracks is 6 feet wide so it will go anywhere
  8. RockSet N' Grade

    RockSet N' Grade LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,454

    Hey TXAGGIE....I know what mesquite is. Spent alot of time a little south on a ranch in Lorena, Texas. I think a tractor with attachments is a better way to go for your budget. You can find alot of farm tractors down that way for pretty reasonable, plus you are familiar with tractors already. Forget the shears. Heavy cutter would be good. One thing I would not compromise on, no matter whether you get a skid or tractor, is a cab.
  9. tallrick

    tallrick LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 682

    Hopefully you are mechanically inclined. Any budget machines will require work and maintenance for sure. You could rig something up yourself, but why make it hard? A good crawler loader will do the job for you. I have cleared out fields full of florida holly to make a pasture using nothing but an old caterpillar loader and a bucket with a homemade grapple. You can push over trees and load them on to a pile to dry out, or even reduce them with a chainsaw after pushing over, and load on a trailer to tow somewhere else. As long as your ground is hard the loader won't sink in. For working in the woods, some trees are better cut by hand. Last trail we built was mostly done by dozer except where it would not fit, and a chain was used for those.

    Bobcat would do the job, but it will take longer and cost more than the simple track loader.
  10. Fieldman12

    Fieldman12 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,504

    Six inch diameter trees is way to big for a Bush Hog and I doubt you would get them bent over far enough to get the blade to cut them. You may get a few done but you will be welding something soon on the deck. If it was me I would either higher someone to come in and do it or rent the machine and head to do the job. Having the right tools is what you need and you just wont get it on that budget. You cannot hardly find a skid steer for under $15,000 that is reliable let alone the attachments. the attachment will easily cost you as much as the skid steer.

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