Driving impression: Skid-steer loaders In the UK, skid-steers have found a strong niche in the pig and poultry sectors, but they are largely ignored by the wider farming community. It is hugely different in North America, where farms without a skiddy are comfortably outnumbered by those that do run one of these versatile little units. Are we in the UK missing a trick? James de Havilland reports on the concept’s pros and cons
A driving impression with a difference – that’s the thinking here. Despite what the assembled tan and yellow pics may suggest, we’re looking at the pros and cons of the skid-steer loader concept rather than pitting one product directly against another.
To assist with this task, Caterpillar and JCB provided us with twin-boom 242B and single-boom Robot 170 skid-steers, respectively. These two machines clearly hail from alternative skid-steer classes in terms of their configuration and power, which was a profi selection made more by design than accident. Our aim here is to give potential users a feel for what they can expect from a skid-steer, both big and not so big.
At this point, it’s also fair to say that we came into this ‘test’ with all of our previously held skid-steer prejudices firmly in place, predicting a conclusion that would support the farming market’s traditional preference for larger handlers – tractor loaders and telescopics. As we all know, skid-steers offer a confined and claustrophobic cabin, less than brilliant stability and relatively limited loader capacity with respect to both forward reach and outand-out lifting power. So initially it’s not looking good.