The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Smallholding => Equipment => Topic started by: Mel on January 25, 2021, 07:38:33 pm

Title: Types of mowers ?
Post by: Mel on January 25, 2021, 07:38:33 pm
Am sure itís been covered but here goes

Situation is 10 acres of long grass not touched for 2 years which has some reeds and brush in it .
To me not knowing anything I would be tempted to purchase a flail mower which would cut it as it is now and also give a reasonable finish for grazing when I get it under control.
So am I right? Or should I be looking at a topper or rotary mower I understand a finishing mower is no good for me as I only need a rough cut

And while am at it in real terms is a 4 ft flail too small for 7 to 10 acres how much would that realistically cut behind a 25 hp compact tractor  in an hour on flat open land.
I do intend using a contractor for the first cut

Any thoughts from the masses appreciated :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Types of mowers ?
Post by: oor wullie on January 25, 2021, 08:36:20 pm
I run a 1.2m flail on a Fordson Dexta (about 30hp).  On grass you don't notice it and could run a bigger mower, on thick rushes it's close to its limit, on really thick rushes I've stalled it.

Wouldn't be confident in guessing how fast I go, 1-2 acres an hour on grass?
Title: Re: Types of mowers ?
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 25, 2021, 11:31:06 pm
Yes a flail is the appropriate gear.

But don't be too hasty to decimate all your rushes.  (They're not reeds, they're rushes.) 

Rushes colonise wet ground and, properly controlled, can in fact make it more useful.  Eradicate them and you may have a useless mudbath half the year.  Manage them and they are shelter for livestock (especially sheep and most especially lambs); the fresh shoots are decent eating; the grass which grows in the gaps is often the best grass in the field; and if it appeals to you to support ground-nesting birds, then a mosaic of rushes of varying ages and heights, with some open patches in between, can attract birds such as curlew, snipe, lapwing and grouse (to name but a few) to nest and rear young there.

If you like the sound of all that, then the recipe is to top approx 1/3 each year in disorganised patterns, after the fledglings have left (so not before mid July) and again 6-8 weeks later (if it's not too wet by then to go a-topping :/)  Aim to have some clearings but with cover (ie., rushes!) nearby, and a patchwork of younger, smaller plants and more established ones.

You can usually find lots of info about managing rushes for wild birds on the RSPB website, and anything which is good for birds makes good sheltered grazing for sheep :). 

We tend to let the rushes have the wettest sections of our fields with a few patches on the drier areas so that there is still somewhere for the sheep to shelter even when the wetter areas are completely awash.  This year we have been able to keep one such field closed up, nothing grazing in there, since December, and a curlew has recently been sighted flying around... :fc:

Title: Re: Types of mowers ?
Post by: arobwk on January 26, 2021, 02:58:09 am
Various thoughts:


Weight of implement obviously needs to be considered on a small (25 HP) tractor.
If thinking flail, then heavy duty &/or "wide" flail mowers can really be quite weighty. 
My heavy-duty flail (spec'd to deal with stuff up to 40mm) with 4.5' width cut, weighs some 330 kg I believe:  it's OK on my 1 tonne 35 HP "alpine-type" tractor, but I deffo wouldn't want to be carrying more flail weight without adding counter-weights to tractor ! 
Obviously lighter flails will be available, per cutting width, if one intends to cut reasonably frequently so that the growth to be flailed is not overly tough/dense.


I would think (I don't know) that a "topper" would weigh reasonably less than a flail:  if your going is good (not unduely rutted) and reasonably clean of stones, then I would think a potentially lighter (?) and, then, possibly wider (?) topper to match your small tractor might be worth looking into. 

(Not a recommendation;  just some thoughts while I've been unable to get to sleep.  I finally feel a yawn coming on - nu-night !)
Title: Re: Types of mowers ?
Post by: Mel on January 26, 2021, 07:54:36 pm
Yes a flail is the appropriate gear.

But don't be too hasty to decimate all your rushes.  (They're not reeds, they're rushes.) 

Rushes colonise wet ground and, properly controlled, can in fact make it more useful.  Eradicate them and you may have a useless mudbath half the year.  Manage them and they are shelter for livestock (especially sheep and most especially lambs); the fresh shoots are decent eating; the grass which grows in the gaps is often the best grass in the field; and if it appeals to you to support ground-nesting birds, then a mosaic of rushes of varying ages and heights, with some open patches in between, can attract birds such as curlew, snipe, lapwing and grouse (to name but a few) to nest and rear young there.

If you like the sound of all that, then the recipe is to top approx 1/3 each year in disorganised patterns, after the fledglings have left (so not before mid July) and again 6-8 weeks later (if it's not too wet by then to go a-topping :/)  Aim to have some clearings but with cover (ie., rushes!) nearby, and a patchwork of younger, smaller plants and more established ones.

You can usually find lots of info about managing rushes for wild birds on the RSPB website, and anything which is good for birds makes good sheltered grazing for sheep :). 

We tend to let the rushes have the wettest sections of our fields with a few patches on the drier areas so that there is still somewhere for the sheep to shelter even when the wetter areas are completely awash.  This year we have been able to keep one such field closed up, nothing grazing in there, since December, and a curlew has recently been sighted flying around... :fc:
understand all you say but I am strange I have four pet sheep , who are treated like royalty they are already a good 4 score on my current  1 acre , so running out of grass on 10 acre because of mud wonít be an issue ,plenty of nice trees to go under for shelter and the fact they will have on suite 5 star facility in a sheep shed in a3 acres area enclosure ,using rushes wonít be in equation.

The other 7 acres is what I need to cut and has some rushes, and wonít  be used for anything (although I do see regularly up to 10 deer on there )so just want to keep tidy looking.
Appreciate I am a disgrace to all smallholders but running up and down cutting the 7 acres and the 4 sheep safe and sound in the other 3 acres is as much desire I have.
Itís just that toppers flails and rotary mowers are all mentioned to cut grass and wondered what people thought was best - I guess am not too far wrong with a smaller flail just will take me longer

if I can find one am likely to by an older higher hp tractor with loader but if not probably a new solis 26 hp depends if I can find a suitable seller of older tractor I can trust as I know less about tractors than the attachments that go on them :o :o