How to buy an ATV or 4 Wheeler 

If you are rotationally/high density/mob grazing one of the most powerful tools available to you is a 4 wheeler or ATV. These little vehicles have come a long way in the past 10 years. Now available with features you would find on a car, like power steering and automatic transmissions. However, I’d like to talk about the practical applications of using an ATV for farming/ranching.

The first question you should ask yourself is: “What will I use this for?” Consider that answer, and multiply the number of things you came up with by 10. You will find a new use for these everyday. If you are ranching, you might use your ATV to pull the mineral feeder, haul water tanks and lines, catch and relocate stranded calves, and the list could go on.

Lets talk about the engine. I think you need to have at least a 500cc engine, many models are 499cc, this is just great. This factor basically determines how powerful the engine is. Bigger is not always better, but if you foresee yourself doing a lot of “heavy lifting” then get a 500cc+ engine.

Next, the transmission. The transmission is important and oftentimes takes quite a beating. I love the flexibility of an automatic transmission. You are able to other tasks with your left hand while you are driving the ATV. You might be holding some fence posts, trying to keep a calf on your lap while you return it to the herd or talking on your phone. Manual transmissions, I find, are annoying and don’t have a smooth ride. They also require you to have two hands on the handle bars at all times. Realistically there are times when you will be driving your ATV with one hand. Automatic transmissions might cost thousands of more dollars, but they are worth every penny. I can’t tell you how many tasks I’ve done that would have been extremely difficult if not impossible had we been using a manual transmission.

Thirdly, please get an ATV with full-time 4 wheel drive. It’s honestly pointless to get a two-wheel drive version. In fact, I don’t even know if they still make those. You’ll take this vehicle places you never thought you would, get four-wheel drive.

They are starting to get real fancy with ATV’s. Many come with power steering. This is an additional large expense. I’ve never drive an ATV with power steering, I bet they are real nice. However, I’ve never been in a situation where I wished I had it. Go for it if you want, but you could take that money and buy another cow or 10 sheep.

Next up are accessories. Most 4 wheelers come with lights. Get lights, you’ll need them. The most useful and worthwhile accessory for your ATV is a cargo rack, both front and back. They are most often metal, which means you can weld whatever your want onto them after you buy it. All serious ATV’s should have an optional metal rack, get one for both the front and back. Lastly, there are things like winches and skid plates. If you are mindful when driving your ATV, you should rarely, if ever need a skid plate. If your the type of person that ruins stuff, get one! Winches could be helpful, I’ve never seen the need for one though. If you do a lot of logging I guess it would be worth it.

Most ATV’s come in a Gas engine. However, there is the Kawasaki Mule and one from Kubota that are not 4 wheelers, more like mini pickup trucks, that come in a diesel option that are awesome.

Last but not least is color. The color of your ATV, believe it or not is important. I prefer earth tones, or camo. Why? Because you might have to park your ATV on land that your are leasing, or in an undesirable location. A dark green ATV is better than a bright red ATV, in my opinion.

To conclude I can say that the ATV is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Grazing management is faster and easier when you have one. As far as a recommended brand, it has to be Honda. They start EVERYTIME, in almost any weather conditions. If you have a brand you like, go with it.

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Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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