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Cutting Hay With a Sickle Bar – Tips, Tricks, and Bad Weather

It has taken me a bit to get the hang of cutting with this sickle bar!
If the weather would cooperate I might be able to make some hay this month!

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Daily Beetle by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (


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28 thoughts on “Cutting Hay With a Sickle Bar – Tips, Tricks, and Bad Weather

  1. Hi, thank you for posting. I'm setting up a sickle bar on a small tractor. Does the cutter rest on the ground? Or do you keep it lifted up a few inches? Also is your cutter 90 degrees of the machine or is it raked back a small amount. Thanks again, Tony

  2. Angle in you outside shoe so that you have at least foot clear of grass so you make your next pass. Helps keep you from build up on the inside ofthebar.

  3. Im sure lots of people have told you to look for a used tetter. I have a different suggestion for you. Maybe look for a drum mower with conditioning teeth on the drums, or weld some on a drum mower you buy. You will be able to cut faster, miss less, get better breakage on the stems which will let you dry more evenly and faster. My processing times speed way up and I burn way less diesel.

  4. really any work on PTO implement should be with tractor not running. That said, thanks for the video. I cut hay with a mower like this for years before I could afford a rotary mower.

  5. Dad was fanatical about greasing all the zeros before every use! Sickle bars could be a pain in fields with gopher mounds

  6. Im thinking of cutting the hinge part off my sickle mower and extending it out since i trample it with my tire since my ford 501? Is mounted on my JD 520 with 45w loader. The loader makes me have tires out

  7. Back in the day we used a sickle bar all the time and averaged 20,000 bales a season. We never had much trouble with it cloging and we cut some really tall and thick grass. But we ran with some speed usually 5th or 1st high and around 2,000 to 2,500 rpm. The extra speed helped with the cloging issue. By the sickle bar traveling faster before grass had time to collect and fall into it.

  8. We have a pasture that needs to be cut for hay. Since we have been renting it we have had a lot of trouble getting someone to cut and bale it. We've had three different custom hay guys cut it and all have got out of the business. I mentioned to my dad about using my sickle bar mower. He said you don't know what you are getting in to and you won't be happy. Dad is 80 and has cut hay this way with both horses and tractors. I have also been told that without the crimper on the swather the hay won't right. The hay gets fairly tall, chest high and more and is hard to get dry (up to weeks and there is wind). Custom harvesters don't want to come unless there is quite a bit of hay and bales to be made. Plus the pasture is on contours and rough. I would love to cut, rake and bale all myself but don't have equipment. And used balers are expensive for just possibly 60-70 acres. When we have got it cut, it really saves on our hay bill. We have 20 horses and a 100 head of cattle ( cows, calves, replacement heifers, bull and steers for home slaughter). And my wife and I both have fulltime jobs. Mine is fairly physical, on concrete ( which takes a toll on my knees and feet, legs, hips, shoulders, back etc) along with forced overtime and a 6 day week with rotating days off.. So sometimes feeding is all I can after work let alone maintenance on my days off. So cutting and baling the hay myself may be out of my league.

  9. Just got my first sickle bar mower two months ago. I grew up on the farm and operated tractors but never have I used hay equipment nor mowed hay, just brush hogged. Thanks for sharing this it really helps.

  10. Congratulations on selling your hay your first year! And now you'll have returning customers too. Have you thought about growing pumpkins at some time? Thank you for the video.

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