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What farm equipment do you need to get started?

If you've just bought a farm, large or small, you are going to need some equipment, but what items are essential?  Which can you buy secondhand and which ones should you buy new?  Here's what I think, I hope you'll share your own experience.  Of course, there are many different types of farming, so exactly what you need is going to depend on what you are going to do, so I'll write mainly about raising cattle and improving pasture.

me on the little tractor

You might start by thinking about getting a tractor.  I've written about buying a secondhand tractor and a new tractor.  The size of the tractor that you need will depend on the implements that you want to use, so you really need to figure out your implements.  In fact you can now get implements that run off a quad bike, so you may not actually need a tractor.

Implements that you might need include:
  • Slasher - on most farms this will be essential for improving pasture and just keeping the yard tidy
  • Post-hole digger - if you are going to be building fences, you can use a crow bar to dig holes, however this will be hard work if you have more than a few holes to do.
  • Spray tank - for spraying compost tea, liquid minerals and microbes (and herbicides if you have a weed problem and no alternative control options)
  • Plough/cultivator/seeder for planting pasture or forage crops
  • Front bucket or blade - great for moving and lifting things, we also got forklift tynes and hay spikes

The following is a list of the other equipment that we use regularly.  You don't have to buy everything at once and you don't have to buy everything new.  Think about what you are going to need most urgently to get things done.  There may also be things that you can borrow from neighbours if you won't need them all the time or for more than a one-off project.

  • Chainsaws - if you have trees on your property, chances are at the very least you will need to clean up a fallen tree, if not cutting wood for firewood and building materials.  The size of the saw you get will depend on how much use you expect.  If you are going to be cutting a lot of firewood it is worth investing in a larger saw as you will get through it quicker and spend less time sharpening the chain.
  • Water pump - we have two "firefighter" pumps which have a small petrol engine.  They are portable so we can take them to any of our dams and move water, either into water troughs or to fill up our sprayer.  We will also be using one to irrigate to establish grass around some of our dams.
  • Cattle yards, crush and ramp, water troughs, hay bale feeders - these are the bare minimum if you're thinking of getting cattle, whether you get one or twenty or a hundred, you need basic equipment so that you can handle them safely, load and unload and provide feed and water.
  • A ute or trailer - there is always something that needs to be moved on or off the farm, whether its hay, seed, fertiliser, cattle (!) or rubbish, you will find a ute or trailer essential.

Obviously there are other smaller items that you're going to need, and maybe different equipment for different properties or types of farming ventures, but I hope this gives you an idea of the big items that I think you will need to at least consider when you get started on a new property.   When it comes to the size of your property, we had all of this equipment before we bought our 258 A property, apart from the big tractor and implements.  I think the larger the property, the more you do really need to consider a decent size tractor.  Even with just eight acres, we had the small tractor and ride-on mower and a hand operated post-hole digger.

What do you think?  Did I miss anything?  What in my list is essential and what do you personally do without?


  1. A lot depends on your landscape too. Our land is mostly sloped, with limited access roads. So highly mechanised equipment like tractors and ride on mowers, are more an inconvenience than a practicality. On flat land though, I can see them being more useful, and definitely safer to use.

    We need a bigger chainsaw, to deal with the girth of trees we need to take down. Which is on our list. The smaller, electric variety we have presently, just doesn't have the gumption. Plus it fills up with sawdust pretty quickly, which means you have to stop more regularly, to clean it out. Not fun, when you've mostly felled a tree, then have to get on the ground and open up the case, to clean it out - and the wind suddenly changes direction.

    Basically though, we have a lot of manual tools, due to the nature of our slopes. Only using smaller units of machinery, which can traverse a slope, and be used safely on one.

    I suspect if we actually had a shed, we'd probably invest in an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) to make hauling on slopes, easier. Although, I'd be worried it would tip backwards on our hills, if I accidentally gave it too much throttle. So maybe not? ;)

  2. Thanks for the post. We bought a big tractor which is what we need for our slopes and large trees etc. However now we are reluctant to use it to spread on the good lower paddocks due to the damage the tyres do when moving about. So looking at spreading with atv or a smaller tractor. We need to do alot of pasture improvement.

  3. We bought an old Fergie tractor when we first bought our property, and it was great value, but later on bought a newer, second hand tractor, quite a bit larger, that can do so much more. Chainsaws are a must, for fire wood here in our freezing winters plus we have a mechanical log splitter that saves a lot of time and effort. We swap a couple of our tractor implements with a neighbours implement that we don't have, so we didn't need to buy all of the ones we use only occasionally. We hire a post hole digger and bob cat on the few occasions we need to use them. The quad bike is indispensable and used to put out most of our bio-dynamic sprays, cart hay into paddocks using the small trailer, move bees etc. The big new cattle trailer was our latest big purchase, and worth its weight in gold for moving our rental bull, cows, sheep, alpacas, bee boxes. Our rotary hoe was inherited and is used in the vege gardens. Gosh, now I'm trying to list all of our farm equipment I realise just how many there are. Shearing plant, grain crusher, chaff cutter, milking machine, water pumps, bee keeping equipment, utility vehicle. All purchased gradually as we could afford to pay cash.


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