What Scythe mower for Hay making?

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    I have about 10 acres of land and have been looking at getting the Oxford Allen scythe mower. My main purpose will be making Hay for my own use. Unfortunately I am on a very tight budget, so can’t afford a tractor. The Oxford Allen appealed to me as there seems to be a lot of them about and the prices are very reasonable. But would something so old be up to the job? Are parts / manuals readily available for these older mowers? Am I better off getting something else, or saving a bit more money and getting something newer? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • This topic was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by tommydog.

    Manuals are readily available for the Allen Scythe and Villiers engines. Parts for the engine are also available. Parts specific to the Allen Scythe are not, depending what parts are required, they are fairly sturdy and robust machines and plenty are still in use.


    Thanks for your reply. Just a couple of follow on questions:
    1) Would you say an Allen Scythe is my best option? Or are there better vintage machines that have parts readily available?

    2) Would the Allen Scythe be up to the job of cutting 10 acres of land for making Hay? Or is it best to go for something newer?

    3) If I do go for the Allen Scythe, is it best to go for the 4 stroke engine in terms of reliability and getting parts?

    Many thanks


    10 acres, that’s an awful lot of walking! Asking a lot of a vintage machine and inviting mechanical issues just when the sun shines. A more modern version of an Allen Scythe will be a BCS or one of it’s clones that all stem from Italy or Austria where they are used for mowing Alpine pastures .
    I would seriously consider getting a contractor to mow and turn it.
    Once you’ve made the hay – what then , bale it? Cart it in loose? With what?
    Excuse me saying so but I think that the whole job needs a re-think.
    Perhaps consider trading hay for assistance from someone who has the kit.


    Well 10 acres is not that much. According to the Oxford Allen brochure, it only takes 2 hours per acre. That is very manageable – but do they tend to over heat after a few hours?. I’m happy to put in 10 hours of work per day (have done a field with a manual Scythe before), so would have the lot done in a weekend. No way am I getting a contractor in. Time is not so much of an issue (within reason) and I enjoy working outdoors. Also bailing is not an issue, as I have a big cart that I fill loose and park in the barn. My main constraint is budget, that’s why I was looking at the older machines. But would be willing to spend about £500 on a newer used item if it would make more sense. Just interested to hear peoples opinions on the best way to go? Maybe the Oxford Allen is the best option?


    Well, you are obviously younger and more energetic than me . While we are about it, and before we get into the Robin Reliant syndrome, it’s an Allen Scythe that happened to be made in Oxford. A dear departed friend of mine used to describe the Allen Scythe and one or two other machines as ones that you worked with your flies undone; as if one was going to work like a cart horse one might as well look like one.
    Anyway there’s someone on the other old mower site that’s got an Allen for sale.
    That’s me done!


    What about the Howard 350? Can you get a scythe attachment for them? I have read good reviews on the Howard 350


    As far as I know the 350 ( and the earlier 300 and later 352) was always a stand alone cultivator and not a multi purpose tool carrier.


    Dear Sir,
    I have seen your questions, and seen the answers, some I may add quite enlightened.
    I have a few questions for you, firstly you say you have 10 acres to cut, but you dont have a large budget, most small parcels of land now a days make £10,000 an acre, and with your 10 acres you should still be large enough to get your single farm payment.

    Its always good to reminisce about what vintage machines can do, I am old enough to have worked with Allen scythes commercially, in their day they were good, but what you are asking for is in short nothing but trouble, you need a more modern machine.

    This is the way I would go, and the reasons
    Firstly and most importantly hay is a crop, you have to know the best time to harvest, from cutting to collecting you have to get it right, or you will end up with a crop that no one wants. If baling always bale small bales they make the best price.
    As Wristpin suggests you need the two wheel BCS 740 tractor, this will have all the implements you require, to include a mini baler. They are not cheap a whole set up could knock you back £12,000, if you cannot afford the budget, then sell an acre of land!
    I run a fleet of 3 BCS 740’s and swear by them, I also crop hay commercially
    Hope this helps


    I understand what you say, but am very reluctant to sell any land. At my previous place, I used a manual scythe to cut a field which took forever. So a powered machine would be a huge step forward. What about something more modern like a Wolseley merry tiller titan?

    There is no way I could ever stretch to something like a BCS 740. At that sort of price I could get a full tractor, such as a really nice Massey Ferguson 135 with attachments. The BCS equipment looks nice, but its just not worth it for me. If looking for something newer, are there any good Chinese clones that are worth considering?

    • This reply was modified 4 months ago by tommydog.

    “. If looking for something newer, are there any good Chinese clones that are worth considering?”

    The simple answer to that is Yes and No



    There is always another way to go, that is to get a contractor in who knows what he is doing. Get it baled in small bales, then Waite till late winter, when the hay prices go up, then off load your hay to the highest bidder. That way there will be no aching limbs, no blisters on your hands.
    But a large limp coursed by the weight of bank notes in your pocket!


    Are you looking at an Allen purely for budget reasons? Or is the ground not suitable for full size tractor?
    There is bound to be an enthusiast locally with a fergie/dexta type tractor and a finger bar mower who would be willing to have a day ‘playing’.
    What do you do about fluffing and windrowing the cut grass?.
    Another option may be to contact your local Wildlife Trust, they have lots of volunteers and quite often like to run scything courses/days.


    Yes I am looking purely for budget reasons. A full size tractor would be perfect but out of my budget. Its not possible to ask anyone to help around here. I have fallen out with most of the neighbours over a planning application, but thats another story.

    At the moment I used a manual Scythe, so anything powered would be a huge step up.


    After a lot of research I have decided to go with a Merry Tiller Titan. The parts are easily available and even the engines can be swapped out easily for newer engines. I know it’s a small machine and its probably not ideal, but at the moment I use a manual scythe. It takes me forever to do even 1 acre. So I feel any powered machine will be a huge step forward. I can also use it for rotavating a 1/2 acre vegetable plot. For my budget, I think this is the best option.

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