Should you buy a flail mower or a brush hog (rotary cutter)? What’s the better investment for you? While both of these tools are mowers, there’s some major differences between each type of tractor attachment. I’d encourage you to rank your priorities as we go through this comparison of a flail mower and brush hog. The right tool for the job won’t be the same for everyone and that’s okay. Pick the tractor attachment that checks the most boxes on your list or meets the highest priorities. It’s doubtful that you will find the perfect tool. However, knowlege is power and this information is here to let you make a well-informed decision.
Let’s compare pricing of the flail mower vs brush hog. This is first and foremost on our minds. Generally speaking, a brush hog will be cheaper than a flail mower. I could easily find examples of brush hogs that cost as much or more than a flail mower, but these would be more of the exception than the rule. You will have more maintenance on a flail mower than a brush hog. While each has a gear box, the flail mower will also have belts that serve as the driveline protection while the brush hog has either a shear bolt or slip clutch to protect against hidden stumps, rocks, and other obstacles. The brush hog will generally be less maintenance. There’s also many individual blades on flail mowers to sharpen or replace while the brush hog will generally have two big blades to sharpen or replace. However, a flail mower has the ability to replace a rough cut mower AND a finish mower with just one tool. This is something a brush hog simply cannot do. So, you could cut your field and mow your lawn with one tool potentially saving thousands of dollars, minimizing storage space, and simplifying maintenance.
What’s the advantages of a flail mower over brush hog? As we mentioned in the pricing section, one of the huge advantages of a flail mower over brush hog is the ability to potentially mow rough cut areas as well as mow your lawn. This seems questionable, but it’s true. Flail mowers have been prevalent in Europe far longer than the USA and this is common practice in those countriers. Flail mowers generally mow at a lower cut height than a brush hog, some even as low just a couple of inches and as high as 4-7″ depending on the model. Flail mowers ride along a rear roller which is one of the ways to adjust cut height. This also allows for a more even cut and helps to prevent scalping. Additionally, by riding along the ground, this takes rear weight off of the tractor and can lead to a smoother, more comfortable operator experience. Many flail mowers also allow for side shifting and tilt capabilities. This means you can reach out and mow under fences, along brush lines, around ponds, into ditches, and under trees. This is one of the main attractions to flail mowers as it greatly expands their versatility. Be aware that many of these flail mowers will require extra hydraulics on your tractor to control the side shift and tilt capabilities.
A flail mower is much more compact in nature and doesn’t stick out nearly as far as a brush hog. This is helpful for several reasons. First, it means you can maneuver much easier in tight spots. It also means the required storage space is much less. If you plan to trailer your equipment, then a shorter trailer is useable. Plus, with the weight sitting closer to the tractor, smaller trators can lift and operate a bigger flail mower than brush hog. For example, the John Deere 1025r can effectively run a 62″ wide Funny Top flail mower while only effectively running a 48″ wide Dirt Dog rotary cutter. This extra width can be very beneficial to cut down on mowing time and extending your reach.
What’s the advantages of a brush hog over a flail mower? Beyond the initial price savings and simpler maintenance, there’s a couple of other advantages. One could make a case that the length (front to back) of the rotary cutter is helpful to back into and mow hard to reach places. Further under trees, further down into ditches or pond banks, or other similar scenarios. This can be a cumbersome process and you must constantly reposition and mow one strip, then repeat the process. However, it is something that the flail mower cannot do. There may also be certain applications where you require a higher cut height of 6″, 8″ or even higher. Clover fields come to mind as food plotters like to trim off the tops of the clover just as they start to flower/seed out to prevent hardening off. A flail mower has a roller than rides along the ground and generally would not cut at 6″ or 8″ meaning it isn’t the right tool for this job.
One other big advantage of the brush hog is that they are nearly all quick hitch compatible. This is a huge convenience for folks that already own a quick hitch. Flail mowers aren’t quick hitch compatible with the exception of those offered by Befco. We are a Befco dealer, but their flail mowers are around double the price of other quality flail mowers on the market. Therefore, we don’t recommend them as the value proposition simply isn’t there. There is a rumor that the Del Morino Funny Top flail mower will be quick hitch compatible in the future. So, send me an email if you are curious to learn more.
Both the flail mower and brush hog are handy tractor attachments. Which is the better mower for you? Make a priority list that includes pricing, mowing applications, storage, and any other specific needs for your circumstances. Rank those needs in the order of importance to you. This answer won’t be the same for everyone. It’s important to note that you can sell the mower off at a later date. Often times, we think we’re just spent $3000 or $4000 that is gone forever. However, even after using a tool like this for years, you can often recoup 50% or more of the original purchase price. If you need specific recommendations on the best flail mower or brush hog to meet your needs or match up with your tractor, then we’re happy to help point you in the right direction. You can browse our current offering of flail mowers and brush hogs by clicking here. We ship our products nationwide and take our business very seriously. With years of experience, we know the best fitting tools for your machine.
If you would prefer to watch a video comparing a brush hog and flail mower, then please watch below.