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Bush Hog Job

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GSPHUNTER, Jul 25, 2007.


    GSPHUNTER LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 310

    Hey guys, this will be my first bush hog job, and I need some opinions. I have two - three acres to mow.

    My two options are these:
    A buddy of mine has a farm about 80 miles (little over an hours drive) from the job. I can go pick up his brush hog, which will cost me about 20 gallons in diesel when adding up both round trips to pick up and drop off. Diesel around here is going for 2.65/gal, which brings the total to $53.00 + whatever I run in the tractor.

    Option two is to rent a tractor/brush hog/trailer from a local rental shop for $195/ 4hrs.

    Obviously the first option is cheaper on paper, but by the time I figure in my time and wear and tear on the truck I don't know if it will be worth it.

    Any opinions would be great.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    Sub it out to someone local. They can do it for a whole lot less than you can driving an hour or renting the equipment.
  3. pjslawncare/landscap

    pjslawncare/landscap LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,410

    I agree with Carcrz. With a job that small, you wouldnt make any $$ having to rent or spend that much time driving. Sub it out and add a small cost to it for yourself.
  4. KTO Enterprises

    KTO Enterprises LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,286

    Dont bush hog unless you own your own equipment.

    You are responsible for rental equipment. You break, you pay to fix.

    You are responsible for your friends equipment. You break you pay to fix.

    One break down has cost me $2,200 before.

    GSPHUNTER LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 310

    This job is kind of helping a friend out that needs it done to save his ass. He asked me about doing it for him today. I think I already found someone with there own bush hog that will do it in the future.

    I'm going to see if he can do it this week, and if not I will probably do it on Sat. only and have the other guy do it the rest of the year.

    On a side note, this has got me thinking about the money available in this market. I see about 20+ trailers full of mowers driving around town everyday, and rarely if ever see tractors with bush hogs. KTO, I know you do alot of bush hogging, what would be a good starting setup.
  6. KTO Enterprises

    KTO Enterprises LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,286

    I started on a 1980 John deere 2040. I paid 4,500 for the tractor. I bought a Johndeere MX5 bush hog for 1,800. (now wish I had bought a "Bush Hog" brand cutter.) the trailer with the tractor is a 28 foot gooseneck, $5,700

    I used this for my first couple of years. The constant clutching started to kill my hip so I bought a brand new eHydro 4120 in april with a front bucket for $25,253.00. I need to make a belly pan for this tractor because of all the sensors and wires underneath. All I have done this year is maintenance type work. Havent had many calls for lot clearings.

    I charge anywhere from 120 to 150 per hour. I used to have a 200 minimum, for the first hour, then hourly rate after that. Recently went up to 250 minimum.

    There is very good money in bush hogging, but it can be costly. There isnt as many part failures it seems as mowers, but when there is a breakdown, it is major. Really have to be smart with money. Just to give you an example f how good some days can be.

    Today, I did 14 1/6 acre lots that I do once a month. I started at 2:00 and was done at 5:15. I charge 60 per lot. total was 840 for a little over 3 hours worth of work. Granted they took me about 4 and a half hours on the old tractor.

    May through october I generally do around 5,500 to 7,500 in bush hogging.
    Only about 1,200 per mothe rest of the year. I average around 2,000 per month in lawn care work. Only reason I cut lawns is they give me something to do in winter.

    My setup can be seen here http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=187451&highlight=ultimate+rig&page=2
    post number 17
  7. privatelawn

    privatelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 301

    If you own it. You break you pay to fix.

  8. KTO Enterprises

    KTO Enterprises LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,286

    Yes but when you own it you get to continue to use it to make money with after you fix it. If i borrow a back hoe tomorrow to do a $300 job that is something i dont normally do but I got asked to do it, and break a hydraulic cylinder and it cost me 1,300 to get repaired, I just went 1,000 in to the hole on a piece of equipment that I dont even own.


    This is why I dont rent equipment to do work for someone else. A friend of mine rented a mini excavator to dig a small pond on his property. The dirt where he was digging gave and the machine fell into the hole. The rear counter weight broke off, and took part of the engine block with it. Long story short, $4,600 was the repair costs. Do you feel lucky?
  9. tgaskill

    tgaskill LawnSite Member
    Posts: 148

    GSPHUNTER, I'm roughly 75-80 west of St Louis right off HWY 70. If it's around here we could work something out. PM me
  10. KTO Enterprises

    KTO Enterprises LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,286

    Here is what I believe is a smart way to go about being in the bush hogging business.

    1. Start on a reliable tractor you can afford. Buy a very high quality bush hog.

    2. Save as quickly as you can. Put at least 20% of each job done (30% if possible) into savings, until you have $3,000. DO NOT USE THIS MONEY UNTIL STEP 3. Once you have at least this much in savings take what you make on each job and pocket it minus normal operating expenses.

    3. Use from funds from savings whenever a BREAKDOWN occurs. Not maintenance, oil changes, blades, or beer. Part failures only. Things on tractors are not cheap. ZTR repair expenses are el cheapo compared to tractor repairs. I do all my own repairs, only thing I dont do is if the case of the tractor has to be split. I leave that for the people with the special tools for that job. Anytime a tractor case has to be split you are looking at a bare minimum of 2,000 in labor.

    Bush hogging is not the business for people with bad money management skills.

    You are only one stump away from a major tractor repair bill.

    Check out the thread about things that get run over to see what i am talking about. I posted a couple pics.

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