Arguably the moneymaker on a dairy, the feed mixer is an expensive purchase. The National Agriculture Statistics Service reports 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.
Greg Peterson, better known as ‘Machinery Pete,’ has been following the price of mixer wagons for 26 years. Two factors have firmed up mixer prices in the last two years: the historically low number being sold at machinery auctions and the high price to purchase new. With the cost of mixers on the rise, many producers are looking to purchase used machines.
“It’s always been fun to see what mixers sell for around the country,” Peterson says. “The past two years have seen active bidding for good condition used mixer wagons.”
Despite the nearly 2,000 mixers listed on TractorHouse.com, quality used mixers aren’t easy to come by. 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.
Never purchase sight unseen. It’s important when making a purchasing decision on a mixer that you thoroughly inspect the mixer, Oelberg says. Pictures can be positioned to highlight the best qualities of the machine and also to hide the worst. Schedule an appointment to inspect the mixer and bring your mechanic, or the employee who services your equipment, if possible. Your mechanic will inevitably think of questions to ask the dealer that won’t be on your radar.
Inspect the box inside and out. “Holes in the plates or liners are a sign the mixer is worn out,” Oelberg says.
Steve Stoval of Mixer Center in Stephenville, Texas, agrees. “You need to look at the thickness of the sidewall,” he says. And 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. Thin auger flighting is an indication of high wear. 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, inspect the chains for functionality too,
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.
Don’t expect a used mixer to be dirt cheap. Machinery Pete says strong used values are indicated by the tightness between auction prices and the retail dealer asking prices.
“Reviewing the dealer listings at Machinerypete.com, there’s an example of a 2007 NDE 1552 vertical mixer in northeast Iowa with a dealer asking $18,995,” he says. “That’s compared to the older 2005 model NDE 1552 mixer sold for $16,250 at a consignment auction on March 20, 2015, in southeast Iowa.”
Not all mixers are created equal and Oelberg says the old adage ‘You get what you pay for’ is true. “Often more-expensive, heavier-built mixers tend to last longer and are often better used purchases.”