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Tractor vs. Skid Steer: What Are the Differences?

Did you know that two of the most typical kinds of agricultural machinery are the skid steer and the tractor?

Generally speaking, skid steers and tractors are ideal agricultural partners for various farm jobs and large-scale projects. Yet, they aren’t entirely as interchangeable as they might appear at first. Skid steers and tractors are two machines with different qualities.

Therefore, no worries if you’re not quite sure where you lie on the tractor vs. skid steer spectrum. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of the differences between a skid steer and a tractor. You’ve come to the right place. 

Tractor vs. Skid Steer 101: Understanding Horse Power Ranges

Despite the tractor’s lack of versatility and difficulty in operating, it travels more quickly than the skid steer.

The skid steer has an electronic dashboard, while tractors still employ the old-fashioned handling technique. Skid steer attachments are easier to install and remove than tractor attachments. 

The Horsepower of a Skid Steer

The typical horsepower of a skid steer varies from 40 to 75, depending on the model.

This number might range from 18 up to a whopping 75. Caterpillar’s 3024D skid steer has an engine output of 18, whereas the 308E2 VAB has 65 horsepower.

At Least 50 Horsepower

Small-frame skid steers with less than 50 horsepower are ideal for site improvement, excavating, and underground construction.

When it comes to demolishing a building’s interior, the 50-horsepower machine is at its best. A hydraulic that can shatter concrete structures is possible since it is small and can be used in restricted locations.

50 to 70 Horsepower

Due to their steadiness, these types are the most popular skid steers. In this horsepower range, medium-sized machines are in the mix. Many types of equipment may be attached to these skid steers, allowing them to do heavier jobs that their lesser horsepower cannot.

They can operate in compact spaces just like skid steers because of their lower horsepower.

More than 70 Horsepower

Skids and steers of this size are capable of large-scale handling projects. Road construction, heavy lifting, substantial excavation, and massive construction projects are examples of these occupations.

The machine’s power enables it to raise even the heaviest garbage, bricks, and building materials. The horsepower of the tractors might reach 150 and above. You must choose the most suitable one for the job at hand.

Tractor’s Horsepower

Let’s start with the ranges between 15 to 50 horsepower.

This horsepower range allows for plowing fields and baling tiny square hay tasks. Small quantities of it can tow a wagon and do heavy labor on the ground. The skid steers in this range are slower to move.

90 Horsepower to 100

With this much power at their disposal, a farmer or landowner can do almost any work.

For example, you may use a tractor for baling vast amounts of hay with this much power.

100 to 150 Horsepower

A tractor with between 100 and 150 horsepower is ideal for handling the most challenging agricultural work.

For large-scale farming, such as working on 20 acres of land, tractors in this price range are the best option. Small-scale farmers may not be able to get the most out of this tractor.

Differences in Versatility

Skid steers have a wide range of applications. They can do a wide range of agriculture duties. It is possible to use them as digging tools, particularly in areas where a massive boom cannot reach.

Depending on the work at hand, you may fit them with brush cutters, backhoes, mulching or raking attachments, and other instruments.

It is possible to use tractors to mow, clear ground, lift large objects, plow, remove snow, and cultivate agricultural land. In contrast, the tractors’ adaptability is constrained. They are unable to do all of the tasks that skid steers can.

Functionality: Loading and Dumping Tasks

It would help if you first connected a backhoe and a loader to a skid steer to load and dump. Changing the backhoe and loader may be simple, but it takes time away from other critical jobs.

The tractor is equipped with a backhoe and a loader. You may save time by not having to swap out attachments.

Acceptance of Attachments

You can use the skid steers for any operation with a wide range of attachments.

In contrast, tractors have various attachments that skid steers cannot handle because they are too large.


Skid steers’ high speed makes going from one task site to another more time-consuming while working between them.

The tractor is a more efficient mode of transportation for moving from one location to another and back.

Average Prices and Cost 

Compared to tractors, skid steers are more costly. However, by their very nature, attachments come at a hefty price.

You’ll need to spend extra money on a skid steer if you’re in this situation. Skid steers range in price from $7,500 to $65,000. Brand, size, and manufacture all have an impact on price.

The tractors are lighter and less expensive because of their design. The tractor attachments are also less costly. It costs between $10,000 and $60,000. It depends on the brand, the model, and the size.

However, if your budget is tight, you can always go for a tool rental, as they’ll have tractors and skid steers with low-side capability available to you.

Weight Considerations

Due to the weight of the Skid steer loaders, they disrupt the ground more.

On the other hand, the small tractors are lighter, so they don’t disrupt the ground as much. Because of this, landscapers prefer tractors over skid steers.


Using cooling packs, the stick steers may continue working without stopping for a regeneration procedure. 

Tractors do not have cooling packs. It is necessary to put the tractors on a break for a short period while they cool down. This impedes your ability to carry out your duties while missing out on crucial agricultural time. 

Skid Steer and Tractor Guide

Anyone interested in purchasing heavy equipment needs to understand the distinctions between a skid steer and a tractor. We hope that our guide has shed some light on the tractor vs. skid steer debate so that you can make your purchase or rent the right equipment with no regrets. 

But, if you’re hungry for more information and tips, you should check out our business products and services section for all the essential strategies and explainers you could possibly need. 

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