Tips for bushhogging pasture

neverbilly

Member
Dec 27, 2015
143
Louisiana, USA
Bought some land that has seven acres in pasture that has not been mowed in about six years or more and it is really grown up! The grass in there is fescue and that stuff is tough! I took my Milwaukee cordless hedge trimmer in there yesterday and mowed down an area for my camper trailer. It's the fescue, briars and tall weeds. Also some spots with sweet gum, oak, pine saplings that are one to three inch diameter. If the bush hog won't cut the saplings, I can cut them by hand. I don't wanna tear up my equipment! This pasture is so thick, it's real hard to walk through!

I am about to buy an almost new tractor, only ten hours on it... Kubota 35hp with a 6' Land Pride rotary cutter and other implements. I am thinking I will need to mow this high and come back a second time lower. Wonder if it will take three times! I figure I will have to drive real slow. Average height of growth is probably thigh to waist high. The tall weeds are over my head.

Concerned about yellowjackets and other stinging critters. Any tips on how to mow it? This small tractor does not have a cab. It's dang hot here but thinking of wearing a long sleeve shirt! Maybe some kind of something covering my neck.

If you stir up a nest, stay with tractor or bail and run? I have never been allergic to them but it ain't fun!
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,996
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Usually you will never know you went over a hive until the next time around when you will see them hovering around the cut area looking for the entrance. I then stay away from the center by mowing into the uncut area a good 20 feet or so and then get back on line. Leaves a half circle. I am allergic. The real risk is the hives in the trees. your roll bar will bonk them and then you have to bail and run. Wait for them to clear and retrieve your machine that is sitting there roaring at pto speed.

A brush hog will cut anything smaller than your wrist. You need be able to knock it down with the loader though as you mow forward so that you can drive over it. Don’t back up! The stems will poke into the bottom of the tractor and rip stuff to pieces.

Do keep an eye on your temperature gauge and know that you will need to clean the radiator screens. They are designed to catch the junk but require maintenance several times per day.

Run the engine rpm at the pto mark on the tach. It sounds loud but that’s what you need. You’ll get used to it.

Your mower has either a clutch or shear pins right next to the gear box. You’ll need extra shear pins or figure out how to loosen the clutch and then properly tighten it for safety.

It’s fun. You will blow baby head sized rocks out of the mower hundreds of feet so keep your truck and humans away.
 

ispinwool

Burning Hunk
Feb 5, 2010
223
Butler County, Pa.
Yep...what Highbeam said...I have only one other little nugget to pass on: Watch for 'soft spots'. Our property
has a creek so we aren't surprised with marshy areas but if yours happens to have an underground spring that
burbles up, you might get mired in.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,538
WI, Leroy
if that Kubota is 35 hp at the 540 pto that will be ok, more then likely, but if the 35 is eng rating that means the pto will be about 15-20% less apx which will be on the low side. Frankly rather beating up your own equipment I would have some one come in for the first time- 4 ft high is a lot to attack with a 35 hp tractor. The mower is only going to ride about 1 ft high on the rear wheel, although you could hold it higher with the 3 point - generally not recommended as that puts a lot of stress on the 3 point and rear housings. YES, you will be making at least three trips around to get that knocked down additionally you might need a rake between mowing passes to pull stuff up that just got squashed down.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,295
Northern Maine
As a guy who has hundreds of hours in rough mowing fields you are asking a lot from your new machine. That tall brush eats up the horsepower fast. I'm not saying it can't be done but you will need to take your time. Set your rear wheel as high as it will go for the first cut, wait a week or so then reset the wheel to the height you want and do it again.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,529
NE Ohio
you are asking a lot from your new machine. That tall brush eats up the horsepower fast.
Yup, will be in low gear for sure...we have a 6' hawg on an old Case 470 (gas, 35 hp @PTO) at work and it makes the ole girl grunt in tall grass...stuff that big might involve a lot of clutch work...
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
My sister and her boyfriend just ran into this on their new acreage. They ended up using their john deere riding mower to cut it down. But it took forever, they only had enough spare power to cut a 12" strip with every pass.

My personal choice would have been to rent a bobcat skidsteer with a brushcat attachment, they work really well for tall grass and small trees, they would have had their yard done in an afternoon.
 

neverbilly

Member
Dec 27, 2015
143
Louisiana, USA
As a guy who has hundreds of hours in rough mowing fields you are asking a lot from your new machine. That tall brush eats up the horsepower fast. I'm not saying it can't be done but you will need to take your time. Set your rear wheel as high as it will go for the first cut, wait a week or so then reset the wheel to the height you want and do it again.
What does the "wait a week or so" accomplish? Wishing to clarify.

I was afraid it might be too big a job for a 35hp tractor.

I am going to look into the "rent a bobcat with brushcat." Whatever machine is used, I'd rather operate myself because only I know what I want to cut.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,996
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
The grass is no problem so long as your deck is high enough to mow and not mulch the clippings into oatmeal, the woody things can be majorly time consuming and hard on the equipment. I have mowed in tall fescue (K31 that I planted) that was over my head when seated on the tractor. You simply adjust your speed to maintain nearly full rpm and set the loader bucket at front axle level. You will be working the 3 pt lever also to keep the RPM up.

You didn't say but does this new Kubota have a hydrostatic transmission? Most new ones are and that's great, it allows you to infinitely adjust your speed to match conditions. Gear tractors usually have very low gears for slowness but clutching stinks.

As you mow, the tractor tires will flatten the grass and then the hog will fling a pile of cut grass to the left on top of that flattened grass which may then pop back up in a week. Usually it's just the left tire track that pops back up but no big deal, just mow it again. You will use about a gallon per hour at PTO speed.

One more thing (not really), engage the blades at idle rpm slowly (hopefully your pto has a clutch and not the electronic on/off). Then bring up the rpm to pto 540 on the tach. Keep your loader bucket down at least as low as anything under your tractor to "feel" for stumps, chunks of concrete and also in case you drive into a hole. I have found huge piles of barbed wire, chunks of concrete, cars!, tires, buckets full of engine oil, garden hoses, tarps, propane tanks, etc. in the fields. Be ready to lift the mower deck, keep your hand on that 3 pt lever.

If you mow around the perimeter first and then keep going around in circles towards the center you will herd all of the voles and other wildlife into the center which is a fun time! A brushhog will turn a rabbit into hamburger. You will see the hawks and eagles up in trees watching for the meal.

Don't get wound up in the PTO shaft! Wear the seatbelt. Roll bar up. Go slow.Wear ear muffs.
 
Last edited:

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,996
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
What does the "wait a week or so" accomplish? Wishing to clarify.

I was afraid it might be too big a job for a 35hp tractor.

I am going to look into the "rent a bobcat with brushcat." Whatever machine is used, I'd rather operate myself because only I know what I want to cut.
It's not too big of a job for a 35 HP tractor. It just takes longer than a bigger, more expensive, machine would. The tractor will really shine when you are just maintaining the mowed property, this first mow is more like land clearing so if you can hire a really cheap guy with a forestry mulcher then great but be ready to gag at the high cost. Those 120 HP bobcats have these really cool attachments on front that are hydraulically driven and look like a flail mower but with chipper teeth that can grind stumps, trees, whatever into flat ground. They are awesome but very expensive to buy and hire.

Honestly, your problem will be the woody stuff. Those small trees and any hidden logs or stumps. Go slow and be nice to the equipment.

Don't back up unless the area is mowed!
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,295
Northern Maine
Waiting a week allows the grasses that were folded over from the tires to stand back up. If you have a hydro drive tractor pay attention to your oil temperature. Run it in a lower main gear if you have that option.

My machine at work (NH4835) is a large framed 56HP at the PTO. When I was buying one for myself I had a friend tell me that the loss of HP will have me disappointed. I knew a large framed machine was not going to work for me but I kept his advice and sure enough... he was dead on. The JD 4720 was the right size and the HP is what I'm used to.
 

Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,732
SEPA
This sounds like a job for goats. There are folks around that will bring in small herds of goats and temporary fencing to clear areas. Maybe worth doing some research to see if someone in your area does this. Save your new equipment!
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,402
Iowa
One more reminder to inspect/clean the radiator screen often. Amazing how much accumulation normally migrates there. Just take your time.
 

mtcox1791

Member
Aug 16, 2017
26
Upstate South Carolina
Once you get it mowed. Mow it frequently that you would normally at first. Frequent mowing is hard on saplings and briars and the grass with come back more quickly. Also there are different grades of brush hogs that have different ratings of thickness to mow.