Large volumes of grass will wear machines and foreign objects such as stones will make this even more noticeable on a mower conditioner.
So before looking at the price of a machine, it may be worth noting how much those consumable parts will cost.
When it comes to buying a new piece of machinery, many farmers will be tempted to focus on the price of the machine and the level of back-up from the dealer, but what about the cost of running it?
To find out how much wearing parts cost, we asked 11 manufacturers to price up our list of consumables that will need replacing over a mower conditioner’s lifetime.
We focused on 2.8m to 3.0m mounted machines as these will appeal to both farmers and contractors. But either way, many of the parts listed will be common throughout a manufacturer’s mower range, regardless of whether it is mounted or trailed.
There is a big price difference, with the protective skirt ranging from £70 for the Ziegler to £437.20 for the Claas.
Having skirts that are full of holes and cuts will no doubt turn some potential buyers off when it comes on to the used market, but this layer of plastic will reduce the momentum of flying objects thrown out by the mower.
Some of the mowers use a quick-fit system for changing the knife, while others rely on a nut and bolt.
The general rule of thumb here is to replace the nut and bolt for every two sets of blades.
Although the price you pay for parts may vary a bit at your dealer, those listed in the table should not be far off the mark.
There is also a brief description of the main features of each mower conditioner.
The John Deere 328A has been updated for this season. It has a working width of 2.8m and uses a seven-disc bed, which has a central articulation point so it can adapt to ground contours with hydro-pneumatic suspension.
The blades are the cheapest of the 11 manufacturers here, priced at 55p each. The discs are also the cheapest at £47.78 – three times less than Claas at £156.29.
The 328A uses V-shaped, free-swinging steel conditioning tines, which cost £9.75 each, and the nut and bolt is a further £5.15 – the latter being the most expensive here.
As well as being able to alter the swath from 1m to 2.2m, there is a full width spread kit as standard for this year.
For headlands, the mower uses its own hydraulic ram to raise it out of work. For transport, the mower slews to the rear.
The Fella SM310TL uses a modular disc bed, giving a working width of 3.0m and a price tag of £10,495.
Some of the parts for the Fella are at the top end of the scale, most notably a replacement skid plate for the disc bed which is £110.
Apart from the Krone, which is £105.88, it is a lot more than the other makes.
The blades are £1.60, which is in the middle of the list, and it costs £5.30 to replace the holder on the quick-change knife system.
There is no drive belt to worry about for the metal coil spring conditioner tines as it is all done through drive shafts.
There is a central pivot point on the mower bed for contour following and a hydraulic ram is used to lift the mower at the headland.
The conditioner on the Pottinger NovaCat 305 HED can be taken off when not required and full width spreading is standard. All of the Pottinger NovaCat mounted mowers use a quick-fit knife change system.
Unlike other makes, the blade is held in place, which they say helps reduce wear. If the blade encounters a stone, it can break back before centrifugal force sets it back to the working position.
For transport, the break-back ram is also used to slew the mower to the rear and the headland lift ram can be used to raise it into the vertical position. There is no need to alter the tractor’s linkage and disrupt the angle of the pto. The hydraulic lift ram raises the mower to 22 degrees and drops the outside first so the heel doesn’t dig in.
Costing £8,975 the Taarup TA3128 has two of the cheapest parts, with the rest all sitting somewhere in between.
The drive belt for the conditioner is just £22.25, that is a good way off the £80 Bonhill marketing is asking for a belt for the Ziegler Niemeyer. When putting on new conditioner tines, the fastening is just 72p, with only Claas and Vicon being cheaper at 60p and 66p respectively.
The polyurethane conditioning tines are £5.77. Changing the blades on the Taarup is a nut and bolt spanner job and the mower bed is suspended from the middle for contour following. It uses hydraulic suspension and is lifted out of work by its own hydraulic ram rather than using the tractor linkage.
The Claas Disco 3050C Plus has a working width of 3.0m and uses seven cutting discs. The bed is powered using vee belts, while the conditioner has shaft drive. New blades are £1.05 each and are held in place by a quick-fit arrangement.
The Disco uses metal tines for the conditioner, which cost £5.58 a piece. The 60p for the bolt that holds the conditioning tine in place is also the cheapest here.
For transport, the mower bed is raised hydraulically into the vertical position with the same ram used to lift the mower out of work on the headland. Unlike the Contour model, which has the pivot point over the middle of the cutting bed for following the ground the Disco 3050C Plus has it to one side.
The Lely Splendimo 208 MC has the lowest price tag here at just £7,395 – that will no doubt raise the eyebrow of one or two farmers. They also do reasonably well with the cost of consumable parts.
The blades are held in place by the firm’s quick clip system, which is £3.25 to replace and a lot quicker and cheaper than their old arrangement. The cost of the conditioning tine is just £2.85, so it is near the bottom of the list, and the pin for holding it in place is just £1.16.
The drive belt for the conditioner is also pretty good at £32.18, but still close to £10 more than the Taarup. To follow contours, the Splendimo 208MC is suspended from a central pivot. It is raised hydraulically on the headland and is raised vertically over centre for transport.
The GX 2802SM from JF Stoll carries a price tag of £8,875 and has the most expensive blades here at £2.27 each. Importer WestMac says that this is for their long profile type blades that should last on average 400 to 500 acres using both sides.
The skids that protect the seven disc bed during work are the cheapest to replace and cost £12.63 each, which is a lot less than the £110 Fella is asking for their skids.
The Top Dry conditioning system uses a chain rather than belts to turn the rotor. The conditioning tines are made from a mix of plastic and nylon and cost £3.82 each to replace.
Being a GX model, the cutterbar is pendulum suspended and there are two coarse adjustments for cutting height using the guide shoe, while finer set-up is done with the top link.
Easy Lift means a hydraulic ram raises the mower for headland turns.
Keeping a fresh blade on the Kuhn FC283 GII is not too difficult, with a new knife being 56p, which is just a penny more than John Deere, who are the cheapest. Kuhn offers the best price for the nut and bolt, which holds the blade in place and is £1.10. All the other prices are in between the competition.
Features of the FC283 GII include belt drive to the polyurethane conditioning tines. A new belt is £47.08, making it the second most expensive. For headland turns, the mower is raised and lowered using its own hydraulic ram rather than using the tractor’s lift arms, helping keep the pto in line.
The break back system uses the raise ram so that as it breaks back it also lifts. The mower bed is suspended from the centre for contour following and for transport it slews to the rear.
Vicon’s DMP 3001TC has a working width of 3.0m, with each of the eight discs carrying three blades. The blades are held in place using a nut and bolt arrangement, which costs £3.06, putting it a bit on the high side. The cut quality is why Vicon says three blades per disc are better than two as there is always a cutting edge present, even when the blade has become worn.
Belts are used to drive the cutterbar, while the conditioner rotor is shaft driven. New tines are just £4.92 and it costs 66p to replace the tine fastener.
The DMP 3001TC is suspended from one side rather than central, and there is a hydraulic ram for lifting on headlands. Two springs are used to set the ground pressure and has a breakaway mechanism. For transport, the cutting unit is raised vertically over centre so it is directly behind the tractor.
The Ziegler Niemeyer PD305IC mower conditioner has a working width of 3.0m and the Power Disc range of mower conditioners use a quick-fit knife system with the blade held in place by dowel and the disc simply prised open to swap metal.
The blade holder is not changed as regularly as the nut and bolt approach and costs £15. The £80 vee belt that drives and sets the speed of the conditioner is the most expensive. The protective skirt is made up of sections, so only a smaller part needs replacing if it gets cut or torn. The front section is the cheapest here at just £70. There are two road transport positions – slewed directly behind the tractor or slewed and raised to the vertical position. There is hydraulic break back and ground pressure is set hydraulically.
Replacement metal conditioning tines on the Krone EasyCut 280CVQ cost £13.94, which includes the fixing bush they swing on and a new pin, as it is recommended to change everything at the same time.
Krone offers wear blocks for the leading edge of the cutting discs at £3.23 each so you don’t have to replace the whole disc, which is £66.71, helping reduce running costs. New blades are at the cheaper end at 77p each and are held in place by a quick attach system.
The holder pin costs £5.91, but like other quick fit systems they take a long time to wear. A replacement skid costs £105.88, but they also do a wear plate, which is £50.40.
For transport, the new CVQ folds vertically over centre so the weight is evenly spread across both lift arms rather than just on one side. The EC 280CVQ has a central pivot point for contour following.