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  • Writer's pictureBeckside Machinery

Can You Use a Flail Mower to Cut Hay?

When it comes to agricultural practices, one of the most fundamental questions concerns the methods of cutting hay. Amongst various equipment options, the flail mower is often a topic of discussion for its suitability in haymaking. This article aims to explore whether a flail mower can effectively be used to cut hay, considering its design, functionality, and the quality of the end product.

Understanding Flail Mowers

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand what a flail mower for sale is and how it operates. A flailing mower consists of numerous small blades or 'flails' attached to a rotating drum. As the drum spins, these flails strike the grass forcefully, cutting it down. This design contrasts with other mowers, such as sickle bar or rotary mowers, which use different mechanisms for cutting.

Advantages of Flail Mowers

Flail mowers offer several advantages. They are known for providing a uniform cut and can handle a variety of vegetation types, from thick brush to tall grass. This versatility is a significant plus. They are also less likely to throw debris, making them safer in rocky areas. Additionally, flail mowers are celebrated for their durability and relatively easy maintenance.

Disadvantages in the Context of Haymaking

However, when it comes to haymaking, the flail mower has certain drawbacks. The most significant is the manner in which it cuts and processes the grass. Flail mowers tend to chop and bruise the grass more than other types, potentially affecting the quality of the hay. This bruising can lead to faster moisture loss, which might seem beneficial for drying but can actually reduce the nutritional value of the hay.

The Haymaking Process

To assess the suitability of flail mowers for cutting hay, it’s essential to understand the haymaking process. Haymaking involves cutting, drying, and then storing grasses or legumes for use as animal fodder. The quality of hay is paramount, as it directly impacts the nutritional value it provides to livestock.

The Importance of Cutting Method

The cutting stage is crucial in haymaking. Ideally, the grass should be cut cleanly and left relatively intact. This intactness aids in the even curing of the hay, preserving its nutritional value. Equipment that excessively bruises or chops the grass can negatively impact the drying process and the quality of the hay.

Comparing Flail Mowers with Other Hay Cutting Equipment

Sickle Bar Mowers

Sickle bar mowers are a traditional choice for haymaking. They use a reciprocating motion to cut the grass cleanly and lay it down gently. This method is less likely to cause bruising, which is beneficial for the quality of the hay.

Rotary Mowers

Rotary mowers, another common choice, use horizontal blades to cut the grass. While they might not lay the grass down as gently as sickle bar mowers, they still tend to cause less bruising than flail mowers.

Flail Mower in Haymaking: Practical Considerations

Type of Hay

The suitability of a compact tractor flail mower also depends on the type of hay being produced. For high-quality livestock hay, where nutritional content is critical, a flail mower might not be the best choice due to the reasons mentioned earlier. However, for hay that is less sensitive to bruising, such as bedding, a tractor flail mower could be adequate.

Weather and Drying Conditions

Flail mowers might be more suitable in regions where drying conditions are optimal and rapid drying is necessary. In such scenarios, the increased exposure of the grass to air and sun due to the chopping action of a flail mower might be beneficial.

Field Conditions

The condition of the field also plays a role. In rocky or uneven terrain, the safety and durability advantages of a flail mower might outweigh the potential downsides regarding hay quality.


In conclusion, while flail mowers can technically be used to cut hay, they may not always be the best choice, especially for high-quality livestock hay. Their design tends to cause more bruising to the grass, which can impact the nutritional quality of the hay. However, under certain conditions—such as less stringent quality requirements, rapid drying needs, or challenging field conditions—a flail mower could be a viable option. Ultimately, the decision should be based on a careful consideration of the specific requirements of the haymaking process and the desired quality of the end product.

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