Winter is now almost at an end, and without the difficulty of the previous two where snow and extreme freezing temperatures brought a level of hardship to farming that we can do without.
In fact, it was so mild that I gave the grass around the house its final cut about six times because it was warm enough for growth to continue well past what we were used to.
Similarly, the mild weather has prompted a renewed -- albeit late -- interest in hedgecutting and hedgecutters before spring work and the hedgecutting ban. For many, hedgecutting is a job carried out by a contractor purely because of the cost implications of a hedgecutter. But there are some good second-hand machines out there if you can identify them.
The ideal farmer's hedgecutter is a three-point linkage machine because it is simple to mount and remove from the tractor. Larger machines that mount on special axle sub-frames tend to be more of a contractor specification hedgecutter. These sub-frame brackets are like loader brackets as they are not interchangeable between tractors of a different make or even model and could cost upwards of €2,000 for a set to match your tractor.
Three-point linkage machines tend to come in two versions, a very basic machine with non-parallel arm and no power slew or a higher spec version that has both. Parallel arm is extremely useful for manoeuvring around fence posts and maintaining head position. Power slew brings the arm and head behind the tractor for travelling on the road.
In the field it can facilitate trimming into corners by reversing into them, where a conventional fixed and sided unit cannot. For even more reach, a hedge cutter with telescopic arm may be what you require, budget allowing.
Most importantly make sure that your tractor will be able to handle the unit you intend to buy. You need to be sure that extra track width and outside wheel ballast are enough to provide stability to the proposed combination.
With a second machine, it is difficult to know what you are getting unless you know where it came from and how it was used and maintained.
It is vital to use the machine if you can or at least get who is selling to start it up.
Here are some tips on what to look out for in a second-hand cutter.