Drum mowers, as a general category, are sturdy, low-maintenance machines designed for the compact tractors so popular on today’s small farms. Simple and durable, they are manufactured with fewer moving parts and cut faster and with fewer problems than other types of hay mowers. These mowers are designed with two large counter-rotating drums which are powered from above by a simple gearbox and fitted with 3 to 4 blades each. Their performance is unbeatable in the tough conditions of a hay field.
In the past, the only drawback of drum mowers was that they would windrow the cut crop into a tight pile that does not dry well. If you can imagine the cut grass stacked like a row of fallen dominoes, you have the idea of how conventional drum mowers windrow hay. This tight windrow cannot be directly baled because the underside will never dry. It needs to be spread out with a tedder to dry, and then raked into windrows.
Conditioning drum mowers solve this problem with a unique conditioning system. A series of teeth on the neck of the cutter drum provide a flailing action that breaks stems and ejects the hay out the back of the mower, spreading and fluffing it in the process. The result is a faster drydown time that often eliminates the need for a separate tedder operation. Amazingly, the design accomplishes this feat with absolutely no additional moving parts.
As a side note, conditioning drum mowers should not be confused with mower conditioners. The latter condition by crimping and crushing the forage as it is mown and are typically used by large-scale haying operations, are expensive, monstrous in size, and require quite a bit of horsepower. Therefore, they are not generally a good fit for small-farm haying operations. A conditioning drum mower, however, can be operated with modest horsepower by smaller tractors, and their compact size enables them to be far more maneuverable in the tighter pastures typically found on a small farm.
To determine if a conditioning drum mower would be beneficial for your small-farm haying operation, you should ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Is the climate where your farm is located typically humid and/or rainy. If yes, a conditioning mower can aid in drydown.
- Do you own a tedder or want to avoid the need to purchase one? Since a conditioning mower spreads grasses as it cuts, often tedding is not necessary.
- Do you need to speed drying time in order to increase the efficiency of your hay making process? If yes, a conditioning drum mower potentially saves an additional trip through the field with a rake or tedder and can shorten drying time by up to a day.
Our line of conditioning mowers is indicated by model numbers ending with a “C” in our inventory listings and can be found here. If you need more information or would like to discuss whether or not a conditioning mower would be a good addition to your small-farm haymaking fleet, please give us a call at 260-BALE-HAY. One of our customer service reps will be happy to assist you!