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  1. #1
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    2,972
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Tractor
    Bobcat CT225

    Default Estimating bush-hogging

    I'm curious what you all think is a good pace for bush-hogging with a 5' cutter. I bush-hogged my first big field today (3.5 acres--it's big to me!) and I totally mis-estimated how long it would take me.

    What I did was, I used a mowing calculator to determine how fast I could mow a field at my low gear top speed and my mid gear top speed, and used that as the range to expect. I came out to something like 1.6 to 3 acres per hour. This field had a steep part that I knew I was going to back down, so I guessed it would take me no more than 2 hours. Hah! When all was said and done, I came in just under 4 hours. Maybe 3:40.

    What slowed me down was the following:


    • Occasional patches of thick foliage, especially on uphills, that required slowing down to let the cutter keep up. My tractor is 19 hp at the PTO, which makes it under-powered for a 5 ft cutter, but I'd rather be able to cover my wheel tracks and when I'm not in the thick stuff, I can go just as fast as a more powerful tractor, so I think it's the right choice.
    • Figuring out the "lay of the land". Having to go slow on the slightly tippy parts, in order to be sure that they weren't about to suddenly get a lot more tippy.
    • A very steep and uneven section of the property--perhaps 1/2 acre in total--that simply could not be handled by mowing across the slope, nor by going down the slope and turning around at the bottom (a fence is in the middle of the hill). I mowed across the slope until my butt-cheeks could take it no more, then switched to back-and-forth mowing, which meant I basically had to cover the ground twice, and also had to go slower b/c I didn't want any surprises on the slope.
    • A section that looked relatively flat when un-mowed, turned out to have raised, uneven ridges, and a "bowl" shape that wasn't obvious. I was able to mow the middle normally, but had to back up to the edges.


    Anyway, when all is said and done, I estimate I did just about one acre per hour. Now that I have experience with the lay of the land, and if I'm asked to cut it again before it gets all thick again, I would guess I could get the total job time down to about 3 hours, or 1.2 acres per hour. Obviously, without you seeing the actual property, there's no way for you to say for sure, but does this sound like I'm in the right ballpark here, or am I way off? What do you estimate to hog an acre of land, under various conditions (level pasture vs. hilly, recently hogged vs. totally overgrown, etc...).

    BTW, if you have a 10-foot cutter, you're welcome to chime in, but obviously your numbers won't really be useful to me.

    Since I know y'all love photos, here's a pic of my tractor after I was done cutting.

    -2012-06-13-21-01-a

  2. #2
    Veteran Member GeneD14's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,301
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Tractor
    Kubota M95s, Allis Chalmers 185 & D17 series IV, Kubota ZG-23 Mower, Kawasaki Mule 610

    Default

    Until you get used to your equipments capability: one approach is to quote by the hour. Common formulas are by horse power. So if you had a 50 HP tractor, to bush hog you would charge $50 per hour. This method is simple and easy to understand. Once you learn how long it takes you to mow certain acreages and conditions you can price the work by the job not by the hour. In most cases you can make much more money like this. A few years ago I had a 5' tiller behind a 43 hp tractor and would bid jobs at $300 per acre. Customers were very happy to pay that compared to renting a big machine and trying to figure it out themselves. I was able to do an acre in a little over an hour...pretty good money. Don't forget to have insurance.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Mark Page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    559
    Location
    Maryland
    Tractor
    Massey Ferguson 2615 48hp, 4wd, loader

    Default Re: Estimating bush-hogging

    My biggest field it around 4 acres and it takes me 50 minutes to mow. I'm using a 7 ft. finish mower and a 48 horse tractor. I can go faster but the ride get a little rough.
    Gear Up and Throttle Down.

    2011 Massey 2615, 7ft Woods Rear Discharge Finish Mower, 6 ft Lucknow Snow Blower, Danuser post hole digger with 12" and 24" augers, 350 lb 3 pt broadcast spreader, 7ft scraper blade, 7 ft. drag harrow, JD GT 275 rider with 38" snow blower attachment.


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