Making Hay: Equipment
There are two main types of mowers: 3-point sickle bar and disc. Sickle bar mowers are considered the more traditional of the two and have a precise, scissor-like cut. They require about 540 rpm PTO, and cutting widths are generally 7 to 9 feet. Sickle bar mowers are particularly popular in the Midwest where crops are frequently windblown. Sickle bar mowers have a tendency to plug and don't cut heavy or down hay as well as disc mowers. These machines are also slower going and will keep you in the field longer than a disc mower would. For the best cutting results, the average maximum speed of a sickle bar mower is below 6 mph. Sickle bar mowers, in general, will also need more repairs than disc mowers, although the repair costs are cheaper. The retail price for a 3-point sickle bar mower ranges from $9,000 to $11,000.
Disc mowers are speedier than their sickle bar counterparts and can cut through a tangled crop and a raspberry bush or two. These mowers have a rougher cut than sickle mowers, especially in a newly seeded crop, but this is not usually a problem if the hay is healthy. In general, disc mowers are pricier when it comes to purchasing cost, but they require fewer repairs and will most likely save you money in the long run. A minimum of 30 hp. to 45 hp. is the typical tractor requirement, and cutting width is between 51⁄2 and 7 feet, depending on the model. Cost ranges from $7,000 to $11,000.
Date Updated: September 26, 2012
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