If you were at World Dairy Expo last year, chances are you saw a bright yellow self-propelled mixer wagon on display. After all, the mixer was the first of its kind to touch American soil, coming all the way from Italy.
It was in transit to purchaser Tony Goltstein of Union-Go Dairy, LLC in Winchester, Indiana, and now months later, he continues to be very pleased with his purchase. Tony and his wife, Ivonne, milk 1,400 cows along with their children Rob, 25; Sanne, 22; and Maike, 16.
“Our self-propelled mixer wagon is a simplistic way to feed our cows,” Goltstein says. “The benefits are remarkable feed accuracy, a reduction in shrink, less fuel consumption and improved operator safety.”
Originally from the Netherlands, the Goltsteins are familiar with feeding cows using self-propelled mixer wagons. Before their move to Indiana in 2003 to pursue growth opportunities, their 90 cows in Germany were custom-fed with a self-propelled mixer wagon.
Goltstein says while the concept is common in Europe, he realizes it is rather new in America.
“I was using a tractor with a pull-behind mixer wagon and a pay loader for the first seven years in America,” he says. “When my equipment got to the point where it needed to be replaced, I knew I had to get a self-propelled mixer wagon. I really don’t like using three pieces of equipment to feed my cows.”
Since Sgariboldi was not sold yet in the U.S., the Goltsteins purchased a different self-propelled mixer wagon. They used it for three years; however, it was not quite meeting their needs.
“I am a cow guy, not an equipment guy,” Goltstein says. “I knew this brand was exactly what I needed so when Joel Davis, our local New Holland representative, visited our farm, I mentioned it to him.”
Davis got the ball rolling. He made a few phone calls to Jim Straeter, the owner at New Holland Rochester, and before long New Holland Centerville, along with six other surrounding dealerships, became supporting dealers for the company.
“The quality is excellent,” says Davis, who, along with Straeter, toured the company’s plant in Italy. “We are thrilled to be on board and create this opportunity for farmers across North America.”
The Goltsteins have the Grizzly 8125/2 self-propelled mixer wagon, which includes a solo cab, twin vertical augers, a defacer that loads directly into the mixing bin and a side conveyor that feeds out to the animals. Goltstein is pleased he could customize his self-propelled mixer wagon to fit his needs and he can also use his Feed Supervisor scale, which hails from Dresser, Wisconsin.
Since using the new mixer wagon last fall, the feed accuracy at Union-Go Dairy has become remarkable. While the industry tends to sport a 5 to 7 percent loading error average, the feeder at Union-Go Dairy has it nailed between 0 and 0.5 percent. Even the one-day-per-week feeder with less experience has the loading error down to 1 percent.
“Using the self-propelled mixer wagon has resulted in my cows getting exactly what my nutritionist wants,” Goltstein says. “We are seeing improved conception and pregnancy rates and overall increased cow health because of this accuracy.”
Since feeding with this equipment, conception and pregnancy rates have gone up two points and milk production has increased approximately 1,500 pounds per cow, per year.
“Every bite going into the cows is optimal quality,” Davis adds. “The Goltsteins are passing their weekly shaker tests every time.”
Shrink reduction is another area of improvement. The defacer makes a clean cut similar to a cement wall. And since the feed goes directly into the mixer, there are no signs of spilled feed anywhere.
“I am not wasting or spoiling any feed,” Goltstein says, who purchases all his feed rather than cropping. “To lose two bushels of corn per day, that really adds up.”
All commodities go into the mixer with ease and it can also handle hay. Goltstein says that when the time comes for him to upgrade the equipment, he would like to add the custom feature of a mixer bin lid, which will protect his feed from any weather elements during loading time.
The Goltsteins also save a lot of money on fuel due to both an efficient 23-minute load/unload time per batch and the fact that they are now down to one piece of equipment.
“We are saving 23 gallons of fuel per day,” Goltstein says. “Multiply that by 365 and that is quite a cost savings.”
While most farmers toggle between the tractor and pay loader or skid steer, the self-propelled mixer wagon allows the Goltstein crew to stay solely in the cab during feedings.
“My crew can do everything from the seat of the cab,” Goltstein says. “It is a treat, especially on those wet or cold days.”
The equipment is used eight hours per day, seven days per week. They currently employ only one full-time feeder compared to two full-time feeders last fall and they also need less manpower in the service department.
“Less machinery, in this case, means less man hours,” Goltstein says. So far the only upkeep has been changing the oil every 500 hours and replacing a few knives on the defacer. “It is all normal upkeep,” he adds.
Needless to say, the benefits really add up. Still, it is the overall simplistic design and quality that originally attracted Goltstein to the Sgariboldi self-propelled mixer wagon. “Purchasing this self-propelled mixer wagon was well worth it,” Goltstein says.
PHOTO 1: Indiana dairyman Tony Goltstein says a new self-propelled mixer wagon with attached defacer reduces wastage, labor and makes maintenance easier.
PHOTO 2: Tony and Ivonne Goltstein of Union-Go Dairy, LLC, a Validus-certified dairy farm in Winchester, Indiana, enjoy the benefits of feeding their cows with their new self-propelled mixer wagon. They are pictured with their son, Rob, and daughter, Maike. Photos courtesy Tony Goltstein.
This article is by Jenny Binversie, a freelance writer based in Wisconsin, and originally appeared on ProgressiveDairy.com. For more information on the Sgariboldi mixer, contact Joel Davis at New Holland Centerville, 765-962-7724.