If you need tractor work but do not know how much it costs, here is a guide to help you understand why bush hogging service prices vary and what you can expect to pay. This article is based on market rates in the Chiefland Florida market which is Central Florida.
The first distinction is to understand that bush hogging, brush hogging, and land clearing represent three different levels of work and difficulty. These terms are often used interchangeably but they carry different price connotations.
Bush Hogging or Field Mowing
Bush hogging is cutting heavy grass and briars with a PTO driven rotary cutter attached to a tractor. Brush hogging is done with a rotary cutter (mower). Bush hogging is also called rough-cutting because the big steel blades rip through the material instead of cutting it like a lawnmower or finish mower.
Brush hogging includes bush hogging but adds heavier vegetation generally up to 2″ thick. With the BHS heavy duty tree cutter brush hogging material up to 4″ thick is possible. This gives BHS a unique ability to clear a wider range of vegetation.
Land clearing includes bush and brush hogging but includes all vegetation. Land clearing is broken into two groups by most people. There is tractor land clearing which removes vegetation up to about 4″ diameter trees. This is the maximum a tractor can handle with the implements available today. This results in some trees remaining and short stumps since rotary cutter is generally not used below grade. Tractor land clearing is generally 25%-50% less than forestry mulching.
Forestry mulching uses a rotary drum on the front of a skid steer type machine. Forestry mulchers can cut trees 12-18″ across and mulch them into the soil. They can also mulch below grade to get some roots and get the stumps out of sight. A forestry mulcher is an expensive machine to buy and operate so the prices reflect the overhead.
Bush Hog Cost Factors
There are several factors that go into brush hog pricing but the biggest variables are:
- Distance to the job
- Wear on the equipment
- The difficulty of the job
Distance To The Job
To a bush hog service company time is money. Driving to your location takes away time that could be spent earning higher hourly rates for actual brush hogging, land clearing, or dirt road maintenance. Towing a tractor to your location requires a heavy-duty truck and equipment trailer. If you combine the cost of the truck, trailer, and tractor there is a good chance the bush hog operator has $100,000 or more invested in the equipment. When towing a tractor that weighs more than 4 tons, an HD truck only get about 8 miles per gallon. So before the door closes on the truck, the brush hog operator has a major investment to provide service to you.
Wear On Equipment
Jobs vary in difficulty based on the size and type of vegetation. Dry grass is the easiest and the fastest to cut so it is the least expensive. Cutting large saplings in a rocky environment means more wear on the equipment which translates into more expensive maintenance and repairs on more expensive equipment.
Difficulty of Job
If land needs to be cleared of saplings it can generally be done with a standard bush hog. If the trees are over 2″ in diameter special brush cutting equipment will be needed like a an HD rotary cutter, a tree cutter such as the (Baumalight – see video above) or a forestry mulcher. There are a lot of bush hog operators but few have the specialized equipment of a tree cutter for heavy maintenance and large brush clearing.
Other factors such as how wet and soft the ground is, how steep the terrain is and how many large trees reduce maneuverability all play into the time it takes to do land clearing. Often times there are hidden obstacles in fields that force the tractor operator to go slower. Concrete, stumps, barbed wire, mattresses and even propane tanks are obstacles commonly found when bush hogging.
On average a bush hog operator can cut 1 to 1.5 acres of grass per hour with a single spindle cutter. There are large 3 spindle (each spindle has several blades) cutters which take 1/3 the time but since they cost so much more, the price per hour is often more. Cutting heavy brush requires cutting in reverse. This process is significantly slower and much harder to estimate.
“Bush Hogging” Service Pricing (Florida Market Rates)
- $60-$75/hr Tractor bush hogging of grass, fields and briar
- $70-$90/hr Tractor Brush hogging up to 2″
- $95/hr Tractor Land clearing up to 4″
- $200-$350/hr Land clearing with a forestry mulcher
If you are looking for bush hog services in the Chiefland Florida area, please contact us at 813.699.9062 or online at www.bushhoggingservices.com.