What farm equipment do you need to get started?

by Farmer Liz
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?

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