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A rotary deck mower, commonly called a Bush Hog and manufactured by a company with the same name, is pulled by a tractor and connects with a 3-point hitch. The three points of contact are two long steel arms that extend from each side of the mower and one stabilizing top arm. Although Bush Hog is a name brand, it's most often used generically to define an agricultural or commercial mower.
The Bush Hog mower uses hydraulic technology from the tractor to power its rotary blades. Hydraulic power is derived from fluid under pressure, which is driven by the force of the tractor's engine. On a tractor, the power takeoff (PTO) is a port at the rear of the tractor, where an accessory (such as a Bush Hog mower) attaches by way of a rotating shaft.
To power the Bush Hog, the tractor's engine must be running. The tractor operator will attach the Bush Hog and start the tractor. With the engine running, hydraulic pressure will build to the PTO and the tractor operator will operate a hand lever and engage the Bush Hog. On smaller tractors and older models, the throttle of the tractor controls the speed of the mower's rotary blades. For example, a tractor with an engine that's idling won't mow because the mower blades are rotating too slowly to cut the grass. However, when the same tractor engine is running at full throttle, the mower blades will spin rapidly, chopping through high grass, hay, weeds and small bushes.
The tractor operator may adjust the mowing height of the Bush Hog with a lever that raises and lowers the mowing deck. This lever controls the 3-point hitch and, depending upon the tractor model, will allow the operator to select a mowing height or lift the deck for transportation. Unfortunately, the Bush Hog's rotary blades may be spinning when the mowing bed is lifted, creating a hazard to small animals or children in the vicinity. For that reason, the tractor operator should always disengage the PTO before lifting the mowing deck.
Self-powered Bush Hogs
Less common and usually seen on large commercial mowers is another type of Bush Hog--the self-powered, pull-type rotary mower. These mowers operate without a PTO and have their own engine, mounted on the mower itself. They connect to the tractor by an independent ball hitch. The operator starts the Bush Hog engine, either by hand or from a remote switch in the tractor's cab.
Other Bush Hog Products
Bush Hog, LLC manufactures many industrial and agricultural products including utility vehicles, heavy construction equipment and consumer-type riding and push mowers. However, most often a person uses the term "Bush Hog" to describe a tractor-pulled mowing deck, even if it's manufactured by a different company.
- Photo, courtesy of stock.xchng