Arguably, one of the least enjoyable aspects of raising livestock is caring for them in inclement weather. In the Ozarks, it seems like we are constantly battling mud, snow, or rain, or else, it is 100 degrees and dusty.
On those days where the weather is perfect, many producers choose to check their herds on their ATVs, and on those frequent days where the weather doesn’t cooperate, we fall back on our trusty pickups. Recently, a third option is becoming more popular.
In much of Asia, mini trucks are essential for farmers and ranchers. They have 4×4 capabilities, a cab with heat and air conditioning, a bed that can be dumped, and many other very useful features. They are small, compared to a traditional pickup. Most measure about 5-feet wide and are about 8-feet long – about the size of the bed of a full size pickup – but that is not all bad. They can fit in many places it is awkward or impossible to maneuver a truck, and they get 40-50 miles per gallon.
John Craig, of Trussell’s Front Wheel Drive in Springfield, Mo., can order a mini truck to meet the demands of most any prospective customer. He said they can be ordered to run on gas or propane, they are lightweight and easy to operate, but admitted they are a little cramped for a larger person to operate.
John also believes they are a much better value than UTVs. He says most mini trucks cost between $4-$6,000 depending on the options desired, and that many UTVs cost 2-3 times that much.
Sherri Anderson, owner of Twin Rivers ATV near De Queen, Ark., said the number one advantage a mini truck has compared to a UTV is the sealed cab. “It gets you out of the humidity and the dirt,” Sherri said. She also pointed to recent legislation in Arkansas that allows them to be used on public highways. (Missouri does not have a similar law.) In an area where highway use is allowed, they are a quick and economical way to run into town to buy necessary supplies. They are designed to haul 1000 pounds, so they can do a lot of work for their size. They can also get that work done fast. When running between fields or pastures, they are also much faster than a utility type 4-wheeler, with most models topping out at around 55 MPH.
As much as we love our big 4×4 pickups, 40-50 MPG looks good when gas is pushing $4 per gallon, and as much as we value the maneuverability and economy of our ATVs, when the rain is falling or the snow is blowing, a heated cab feels pretty good. Of course, only you know what will fit your operation best. As with any purchase, it is important to know what your options are, and what you really need to get the job done.


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