A dealership’s recommendation can play a big role in what brand of equipment customers will buy. But when it comes to selling feed mixers, there’s another factor at play: the advice of a farmer’s nutritionist, who is hired to help farmers keep their herds healthy.
Dealers getting into the feed mixer business, or looking to improve their sales, need to get to know area nutritionists and how they view different brands of equipment, says Joe Dues, salesman for North Star Hardware & Implement in North Star, Ohio.
“The mixer salespeople and the nutritionists need to be on the same page” about issues such as the equipment’s mixing capabilities and capacity, he says.
“It’s not a bad idea to ask a customer who their nutritionist is. If they’re a good, they play a big role because of their advice and their influence. A customer will flat out tell you ‘My nutritionist says this guy bought a Jay Lor’ and will explain to me why that machine works well for them.”
Zach Stammen, a nutritionist in Ohio, says it’s hard to underestimate how important feed mixers are to livestock owners, especially in the dairy industry.
Cows must have a consistent pH level in their system, which means they need to eat roughly the same thing every day.
If their food is mixed well and they can’t sort out ingredients, “you get a healthier cow and better production,” Stammen says. If the cows don’t get the right balance, they can develop acidosis — syndrome related to a fermentative disorder of the rumen — or a variety of other health problems.
Stammen says he’s seen a correlation between old, worn-out mixers and health issues in the animals that he does his utmost to prevent when equipment decisions are being made.
Dealers choosing to sell feed mixers, “need to familiarize themselves with the sorting behavior of animals” and how animal health figures into the picture with a mixer selection, Stammen says. “Nutritionists are going to be a big part of the sale, and they’re going to advise on equipment.”
He notes that brand choices among livestock farmers can vary, depending on the region.
“Some producers will buy just one mixer, even if it doesn’t do as good a job, because the dealership only carries that one brand,” Stammen says. “Once you get up to the 3,000-animal dairies, they use mostly European brands. In Ohio, most producers with more than 700 cows are Dutch and they often stick with the equipment from back home.”