Pros: Cant think of any....D'OH
1. You have to use a full load of meat. IE: if its a 20lb mixer you gotta use 20lb, If not the meat just balls up in the middle.
2. The brass bushing on both ends crank and paddle end shave brass into the meat.
3. Bulky and a PITA to clean
If you have a KA mixer, works great with a small 5lb batch, use the dough hook.
I find my mixer breaks down the meat texture.. when I make sausage, I grind part of the meat through the big hole plate, the rest through the middle hole plate and the fat through the fine texture plate... that way I get thorough fat mixing and good tooth texture... The mixer will crush, smush the meat and that texture can be lost with overmixing... 5# Armstrong batches are easy and you have great control... for mixing sticks etc where I want really thorough mixing and the proteins broken down to make a meat paste that holds everything together, the dough hook on the KA is the way to go.... nepas taught me that...
I use grease on the parts that wear...
I have one (a manual one, not one that attaches to my grinder motor). I find that like most who posted above, for batches of less than 10 pounds I just go with the Mark 1 ARMstrong method (ie, by hand). For very large batches, I will drag out the meat mixer. It does work, but it can be a PITA to clean, especially with sausage that needs to be emulsified (mixed a lot). I don't regret buying one, but I do not use it as much as I thought I would when I bought it.
7 pounds is about the minimum I would try in a meat mixer as otherwise it does not really do well. I have the 20 pound Gander Mountain version (but like the stuffers they all appear to be the same but with different brand stickers put on them).
Thanks for reminding me about the dough hook on the Kitchenaid, Dave. I meant to try that on a batch of sticks, and totally forgot. The wife does a lot of cakes and she has the 6.5 quart lift model. I may give that a try next weekend if I make sticks as my 9mm stuffing tube came in and I want to see how well it works with the 17mm collagen casings (the LEM 3/8" ID tube is too big, but this one is 3/8" exterior diameter). Unlike with the LEM, a sleeve of 17mm sticks slid easily over this tube so I have hope. I'm probably going to have to make it a loose mix though as that is one skinny tube!
I've borrowed a friends mixer a few times and we wound up going back to mixing by hand. In the time it takes to sanitize and assemble it and later clean it I can have the sausage mostly stuffed if we mix by hand.
Our batches are occasionally in the five pound range but are usually in the 15 pound range. We don't mind the work and like the ability to control the desired texture better when mixing by hand. It can be tough on the hands though with numb fingers mixing really cold meat by hand. If we were doing batches that were bigger I might spend more effort learning the finer points of a power mixer. I'm concerned that even with adding fat or high temp cheese at the very end of mixing that there would be excessive smearing before everything got uniformly mixed.
We have a 20 qt mixer and I've wondered how a slow speed and a dough hook would work........ Maybe using the mixer for protein development and finishing by hand to blend the fat in?