When is a Sickle Bar Mower the Right Choice?

Posted by Mathew C on Nov 27th 2023

When is a Sickle Bar Mower the Right Choice?

We take pride in offering the best customer service and providing information to support them when making purchases.

So, some of the questions we get are; "Do I need a drum mower? A disc mower? What about a flail mower?" Or the most common, "I have a JD 1025r, what do I need?" 

A sickle bar mower is the right choice when you need a lightweight machine for your small tractor, or when you are mowing along ditch banks and other irregular terrain. They cannot mow at the higher speeds of drum mowers and disc mowers, and they cannot handle heavy brush like a flail mower can. However, they are excellent at cutting at angles well above and below level.

In a world where farms come in all different shapes and sizes, this makes the sickle bar mower ideal. 

Let discuss some of its advantages:

  • Requires little horsepower - If you have a very low power tractor of 15 horsepower or less, this option will likely be your only choice. We do offer smaller drum mowers; however, the weight can be troublesome for most small tractors.
  • Lighter weight - If your tractor is very lightweight, or has very little front weight, a sickle bar is the lightest weight hay mower and therefore your best option. The lighter weight means you can take turns easier and access difficult areas. However, if you have at least 1,500 lbs. of weight, our subcompact drum mower will be a good option.
  • Angled mowing - If you are mowing along ditch banks or ponds, sickle bars are the only hay mower style designed to work. The design of the sickle bar mower gives you more options when cutting, i.e., mowing different degrees, small-tight areas, banks. If you're cutting anything but hay or light material, you should switch to a hydraulic offset flail mower.
  • Less direct motion means less dust/dirt. Disc and drum mowers kick up every chunk of dirt into your future hay. Thus, less motion means a cleaner cut.

That being said, the disadvantages of a sickle bar mower include:

  • Can be expensive – Sickle bar mowers are more expensive than most of our drum mowers and less expensive than our disc mowers.
  • Forward speed - A sickle bar mower’s forward speed is much slower than disc and drum mowers. They can mow a wide swath but a slower speed.
  • Less robust - The Sickle bar mower is not as robust compared to other mowers and have lots of small, light-weight moving parts that are close to the ground. Hitting an obstruction with a sickle bar mower is more likely to cause more damage than with other types of mowers. A disc or drum mower is much more robust.
  • Clogging - They become easily clogged when working in very dense, lodged, or already cut material. Clogging is also more of a problem when blades begin to get dull.
  • Blade replacement - When blades become dull, replacing them usually requires special tools and mechanical know-how and can be time consuming and expensive.
  • Repair and replacement parts are high - Damage for any number of reasons can be expensive to fix. Sickle bar mowers, unlike a drum mower and similar to a disc mower, have a lot of small parts. All of these parts are necessary for the sickle bar mower to operate smoothly. Therefore, if one part becomes damaged, it is likely to result in damaging other parts leading to higher expenses.

We hope this helps when deciding on which mower is best for your operation.