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Not sure your front-end loader is up for the job of moving heavy bales over and over for years on end? A construction-grade wheel loader can do it

With the current size and density of modern round bales, farmers are asking their loader tractors to lift some pretty heavy weights. So heavy, in fact, that many large cattle producers have instead opted for small construction wheel loaders to do the job. That’s because a few years of that kind of hard graft can take a serious toll on agricultural tractors.

That translates into increased wear and damage, and makes it necessary to trade them off sooner and get less for them when you do. “We get some cases where the tractor is three years old and find the tractor is fine but the loader is shot,” says Denny Bouchard of the Mazer Group of New Holland dealerships.

Unless a producer’s operation is large enough to support the $150,000 — or more — investment in a new wheel loader, the only option when it comes to buying a new machine has been to stick with the ag tractor. But Bouchard says he thinks he has a better idea. New Holland’s U80D construction loader tractor may be a good alternative for anyone looking for an economical, high-performance loader tractor.

The U80D is an 80-horsepower tractor loader with a three-point hitch. “Basically it’s a backhoe tractor without the backhoe,” says Bouchard. And replacing the backhoe with a five-position, three-point hitch allows the U80D to break into the agricultural market. One giant advantage this tractor offers is its price. Depending on the U. S. dollar exchange rate, a producer can take one home for around $80,000 — nearly half the price of a wheel loader.

The U80D offers front-wheel assist for excellent traction, and it has one important feature not found on wheel loaders — a PTO. However, despite the fact the four-cylinder diesel puts out 79 engine horsepower, the hydraulically-driven PTO only delivers a little over 40 hp, limiting its usefulness. But that’s still ample to run a medium-sized grain auger or a rear-mount mower.

Bouchard suggests the lower purchase price of the U80D would allow a producer to keep an older ag tractor around to dedicate to PTO work rather than trading it in. That would allow for a dedicated tractor to run an implement such as a bale processor and save time by eliminating the need for frequent disconnecting. All that’s still cheaper than one new wheel loader, and more convenient.

And the hydraulic performance of the U80D is better than a similarly-sized, standard ag tractor.

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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