Jopp family strives to produce high-quality milk
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 07/10/2012 3:38 PM
MAYER, Minn. — Consistency is key to keeping somatic cell counts below 100,000 at Jopp's Century Farm in Carver County.
The herd's SCC varies from 65,000 to 80,000, said Rick Jopp. Their low SCC qualified them for the state's annual list of the top 100 farms with the lowest somatic cell count. Herds on the list have somatic cell counts ranging from 39,000 up to 103,000.
"These farmers do a great job following best management practices in caring for their dairy cows and the result is high-quality milk with low somatic cell counts," said Dave Frederickson, Minnesota's agriculture commissioner. Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality — lower is better.
This is at least the third year the Jopp family has made the top 100 list. They milk 100 grade Holsteins on Jopp Century Farm, which was started in 1886.
Now, Rick and his wife, Colleen, farm with their son, Ryan, and Rick's brother, Ron. Ryan is the fifth generation to farm. He has three sisters who help in the summertime as needed.
The Jopps do several things to keep their herd's somatic cell count below 100,000, starting with making sure their cows stay clean.
They set the trainers once each day in the tie-stall barn to make sure the cows urinate and defecate in the gutter. The stalls have mattresses bedded with wheat straw.
The stalls in the free-stall barn are bedded with sand. About 60 cows are housed in the free-stall barn that was built in 1996.
"That's the only bedding I'd ever use in a free-stall barn," Jopp said.
Sand keeps the cows drier and comfortable.
"It makes the best bedding," he said.
However, it didn't work as well in the tie-stall barn. They tried it for a year and went to mattresses with wheat straw. The straw is normally purchased from a cousin.
They milk every 12 hours, at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. It takes two hours to milk with eight units.
"When we milk, we take our time doing it and do it well," Jopp said.
They milk 49 cows in the tie-stall barn and then switch cows. Their bred heifers are on pasture and the dry cows in the free stall on sand bedding. Both the free stall and the tie stall have tunnel ventilation.
Rick, Ron and Ryan all milk and all follow the same procedure. First, debris is cleaned off the teat with a paper towel. The teat is stripped and dipped. The dip is left on for a good minute and wiped off with a paper towel before the milking unit is attached.
They use Bou-Matic claws with automatic takeoffs. The claws are a lot lighter than a previous milker unit they used and that has almost eliminated milker "squawking."
After the milking unit comes off, the teats are post dipped.
The pre and post-dip are the same. They use Bac Stop from IBA. They've been using the teat dip for 10 years.
Their vacuum is checked once a month.
Low somatic cell count has many benefits, Jopp said. They earn premiums from Bongards' Creameries for their high quality milk and their cows are healthier. They have fewer mastitis flare ups and as a result don't have to treat cows or dump treated milk.
Raising healthy calves is also important to a healthy herd. They keep their calves grouped by age and size. They are bred at 15 months. Ryan cares for the calves.
All heifers and cows are artificially inseminated. They have been 100 percent AI for 33 years, Jopp said.
The Jopps raise all their own feed.