When you’re looking for the best small farm tractor for your farm or homestead, you may gravitate toward the tractors of yore; Ford 9Ns, Farmall Cubs, Fordsons, and the such. The attraction is understandable since these are true classics of farming, offering an allure of an iconic nature and an attractive price point. You can find good deals on these, available in various stages of neglect strewn across the pages of those tractor finder magazines, but if you’re hunting for a functional tool for the farm, you may be barking up the wrong tree.
Tractors are not on the cutting edge of science, but you may not be unaware of how far they’ve come and just how outdated those antiques are. Manufacturers have developed new systems and unified many interfaces since the age of the Farmall, creating best small farm tractors that are robust, agile, dependable, and easily modified to fit the task at hand. Back in the day, a tractor was a tractor, but today there is a wide array of options available, and that can be overwhelming. Follow along in this blog series as we clarify a few things about today’s modern lineup, and help you decide what sort of tractor will fit you best.
What’s The Hitch?
A three-point hitch is the interface we use to attach implements to the back of a tractor. For our purpose, we need to understand the difference between Cat-0 (category zero), Cat-1, and Cat-2. There are more categories but these are the sizes that pertain to the small farmer and homesteader. All these hitches have different pin, hitch arm, and top link dimensions.
Cat-0 implements are miniature versions of Cat-1 implements and are meant to work on the smallest of tractors. Cat-0 is a relatively new size. These implements tend to be expensive, limited in ability, and scarce in the used market. I don’t advise the purchase of a Cat-0 tractor for many reasons, availability of implements is one of them. Cat-0 tractors can only use Cat-0 implements because of size, weight restrictions, and the minimal power associated with Cat-0 tractors. Cat-0 implements are easily identified by their miniature appearance and use of 5/8” lower arm pins.
The 3-point hitch is where implements like these York rakes are attached.
Cat-1 implements are what many consider to be a “standard” implement. Cat-1 is the most common size of hitch, and Cat-1 implements are offered in different widths to match your best small farm tractor. Cat-1 implements are plentiful, readily available, easy to find, and offer you the best chance to find a great deal, especially in the used market. Cat-1 hitches use a 7/8” lower arm pin and many Cat-0 implements can be adapted to fit a Cat-1 hitch. Cat-1 is the most common hitch found on the best small farm tractors.
Cat-2 is a larger, less common hitch size usually reserved for hard use or high horsepower implements. Cat-2 implements tend to be far more robust in their construction, hence they use the larger 1-1/8” lower arm pin size. Having a Cat-2 hitch opens up options when buying implements and allows you to use a larger backhoe. For a wide array of replacement hitch options you can easily search and replace with a used one from many different suppliers at tractor-part.com.