Arguably the money maker on a dairy farm, the feed mixer, is often an expensive purchase. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, the national average price a farmer pays for a trailer-mounted PTO mixer has increased $24,200 in the last 15 years from $13,600 in 2000 to $37,800 in 2014. With the rising cost of these machines, many producers are looking at purchasing used equipment. Here are some tips to ensure the used mixer you’re buying will get the job done.
Purchase from a nearby, reliable dealer. It’s important to purchase used equipment from a nearby dealer because that will allow the best service, says Tom Oelberg, Dairy Field Technical Specialist with Diamond V. He notes that often local dealers will even allow an on-farm test drive which is the best case scenario.
Inspect the box inside and out. Look at the box first to make sure it’s in good working condition, Oelberg says. “Holes in the plates or liners are a sign that the mixer is worn out,” he says. Steve Stoval of Mixer Center in Stephenville, Texas, agrees. “You [buyers] need to look at the thickness of the sidewall,” he says. Oelberg also warns that if there is a significant amount of feed left in the box, the mixer isn’t cleaning out well.
Check the auger and knives. Stoval says farmers should inspect the auger closely for signs of wear. “Look at the thickness of the auger,” he says. Check the knives too. Do the knives look like they are in good working condition, or should they be replaced?
Inspect the gears and chains. Gears need to be in good working condition, Stoval adds. He recommends producers smell the oil and look at its color. “You need to make sure the oil is not burned,” he says. If you’re looking at a horizontal mixer you should inspect the chains for functionality too, Oelberg says.
Request the mixer’s history. Who owned the mixer last? Degree of wear on a used mixer is directly related to how often it was used. “Hours aren’t always an indicator of condition,” Oelberg says. Mixers used on large dairies get much more wear than those used on smaller dairies. Try to find out what kind of maintenance history the mixer has. Dealers may not provide that information, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Oelberg says that the old adage ‘You get what you pay’ for is true for mixers. “Often more expensive, heavier built mixers tend to last longer and are often better used purchases,” he says.
Are you having issues with your mixer? Read this story about troubleshooting your mixer from Jim Dickrell.