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Courtesy Frontier Equipment
Frontier Equipment Rough-cut Mower
Bush Hog is one of the oldest and best-known companies in the business with a name so synonymous with rough-cut mowers that farmers often say, “I’m going to ‘bush hog’ my pasture.” Jack Harrington of Bush Hog, Inc., points out that higher power to the blade is only better if it’s backed up by an appropriately sized deck. A cutter gearbox and driveline may be able to handle a 2-inch-diameter sapling, but will the structure of the machine handle it as well?
“How much bracing is there on the deck?” he asks. “What is the thickness of the steel bracing and deck? How thick and durable are the side bands? Are they able to resist damage when cutting over rough areas?”
The proper mower structure protects not only the machine but, more importantly, the operator and bystanders—human and otherwise. The only required mower safety standard is for front and rear shielding against thrown objects. However, there are voluntary mower safety standards established by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and the American National Standards Institute. Quinley recommends asking dealers about the standards and safety tests their rotary cutters have undergone.
“Many dealers may not know,” he says. “We try to explain the five major components of the standards in our literature and website and educate consumers to what they are. Our mowers pass them all.”
For mower safety, Land Pride and Kunz Engineering both use a model foot in a Foot Probe Test, inserted under the deck and upwards at a 15-degree angle to be sure a foot won’t encounter a blade. While mower safety tests may vary slightly among manufacturers, be comfortable with the safety offered. That includes deck sides, front-to-back weight ratios on tractor-mounted mowers, and PTO shaft covers. Deck edges vary, with most having steel sides and steel chain or rubber front and rear panels. DR Power walk-behind mowers have a rear rubber guard to protect the operator, but front and sides are open with the recommendation that mowing cease if anyone comes within 100 feet.
Courtesy DR Power
DR Power Trailing Mower
Front-to-back weight ratios are an especially important rough-cut mower safety feature due to their probable use on uneven terrain and slopes.
“If the tractor front end is too light, you can’t control steering,” says Elliott. “Check the front-to-rear ratio in the manual. Often, a loader will provide enough added weight. If not, suitcase weights are available.”
Another important mower-safety variable is type of tire. While pneumatic tires are fine in grass and most weeds and brush, a honey locust thorn gave mine a slow leak. Rough-cut-mower tire options include laminated or solid rubber tires. Kunz points out that combining cutter types is another option.
“A compact tractor may not have enough power for a larger cutter, but it has the traction for a mounted or tow-behind PTO-powered cutter and one of ours attached to the side,” he says. “I’ve even seen guys pull one to either side.”
The key is to consider your needs and available tractor, if any, and balance them against your budget and the time you can commit to getting the job done. “The larger the area to be cut, the more power you need,” adds Eickenberg.
About the Author: Jim Ruen lives, writes and works with his gardens and tree farm in the Bluff Country of southeastern Minnesota. When he’s not evaluating tools and equipment for Hobby Farms, he’s writing about them in his blog Shop Talk.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of Hobby Farms.
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