Tom Swyers wanted to make better use of a 460-hp articulated tractor that he bought for tillage work. And his labor supply was stretched thin during the haying season.

“We wanted one man to cut more hay,” says Swyers, of Gardeau Crest Farm, Perry, NY.

He solved both problems by buying two 15'3"-wide disc mower-conditioners for the front and rear of the big tractor. The resulting rig is an acre-eater, cutting 30.5'-wide swaths at speeds up to 18 mph. On average, it cuts 20 acres per hour.

It was built last winter by Swyers' shop foreman, Steve Morse. The rear mower-conditioner is pto-driven; the front unit is driven hydraulically.

According to Morse, the tractor has enough hydraulic capacity to handle the extra unit. But rather than stretch the system to its limits, he added another pump.

“It took quite a bit of engineering,” he says.

Swyers' 1,300-cow dairy operation includes nearly 1,200 acres of alfalfa. It's all chopped with a self-propelled forage harvester and trucked to bunker silos.

Weather permitting, the farm's field crew can complete each cutting in five days.

The farm also has a pull-type disc mower-conditioner and a sicklebar self-propelled machine. Last summer, the self-propelled unit was used mostly to open fields.

Typically, the pull-type and front-and-back rigs were operated early in the morning. Then one was parked to free up an employee for other work.