The Jopson family includes, from left, Nick with his wife, Megan, and their son, Sam; Ingrid, Mike and Moss. In 2007, the Jopsons moved from Windermere, England to Egan, S.D. and built a new dairy operation.
The Jopson family includes, from left, Nick with his wife, Megan, and their son, Sam; Ingrid, Mike and Moss. In 2007, the Jopsons moved from Windermere, England to Egan, S.D. and built a new dairy operation. PHOTO BY JERRY NELSON
    EGAN, S.D. – The past decade has seen numerous changes at Mossings Dairy in Egan, S.D.
    Mossings Dairy is owned and operated by Moss and Ingrid Jopson and their family. The Jopsons have two daughters, Sarah and Kayleigh, and two sons, Nick and Mike.
    When the Dairy Star first visited Mossings Dairy in 2007, the Jopsons had started milking their herd of 480 crossbred cows in their new dairy facility. The Jopson family had relocated to South Dakota from Windermere, England. Windermere is located in the Lake District, about 90 miles north of Liverpool.
    In England, the Jopsons had been milking 110 Holsteins on the 130-acre farm they owned. They bottled all of their milk and delivered it to more than 500 doorsteps every day.
    They wanted to expand their operation, but it was nearly impossible to find additional land and the regulations were crushing. The Jopsons decided to move to America and establish a new dairy operation.
    Mossings Dairy has steadily expanded over the intervening years to its current size of 1,420 Holsteins in milk and 162 dry cows. Add in the young stock and Mossings Dairy owns a total of 2,674 head.
    The Jopson family has also grown. Nick and his wife, Megan, have two children, Sam, 1, and Makenzie, 13. Mike has a son, Declan, 4. Kayleigh is now an emergency room nurse. She and her husband, Mark Lee, have three children Isabell, 9, Ethan, 4, and Daniel, 1. Sarah, a hospice nurse, opted to remain in England. Sarah is getting married in April.
    The Jopsons have endured their shares of ups and downs over the years.
    “We had only a year under our belts when the low milk prices of 2009 hit us,” Ingrid said. “That wasn’t part of our plan. We found ourselves at the bottom of a very steep learning curve.”
    Moss agreed.
    “One of our first mistakes was going with crossbreds,” Moss said. “The crossbreds just weren’t holding up into their second and third lactations. We also felt that they had more than their share of foot troubles. There is money in producing more volume, so we switched over to Holsteins.”
    Another thing the Jopsons have changed is their views on ventilation.
    “Our first freestall barn was naturally ventilated with air cell sidewall curtains,” Moss said. “We were unhappy with that system, so we closed up the ridge vent and switched the barn to tunnel ventilation. That has worked very well for us. All of our barns now have tunnel ventilation. And instead of air cells, we now use translucent polycarbonate siding on the sidewalls.”
    By 2010, the Jopsons had grown their herd to 680 head. They decided to add another 150 feet onto their freestall barn and expand to 880 cows.
    “By 2015, we were housing 1,000 head in 783 free stalls,” Moss said. “We either had to expand our facilities again or sell some cows.”
    The Jopsons opted to add more facilities. Their latest addition, which was completed this past November, is a 100- by 537-foot tunnel-ventilated freestall barn. The barn has two pens with 192 sand-bedded free stalls per pen. And, the new barn was designed with further expansion in mind.
    “This new barn is just the first quarter of what we have planned for this facility,” Moss said. “We may build another quarter off it in a few years. If we have some good years, we may build the other three quarters of the barn within the next five years. At that time, we will likely add a rotary milking parlor. We’ll have to see what the banker says.”
    As with many dairy operations, marketing milk has been an ongoing challenge.
    “We forward contracted our milk a couple of times,” Ingrid said. “One year we came out ahead, and the next year we came out behind.”
    Moss said they continue to market their milk.
    “We’re now using puts and calls and the services of a broker to price our milk,” Moss said. “We’re also taking advantage of the new Dairy Revenue Protection program. These tools enable us to leave the top side open. We have learned that we should lock in a profit whenever we can.”
    Other changes at Mossings Dairy include going from twice-a-day milkings in 2007 to milking three times per day in the dairy’s double-28 parlor. The number of full-time employees has ballooned from six in 2007 to 16 today.
    The herd at Mossings Dairy is producing 85 pounds of milk per head per day with 3.75 percent butterfat and 3.15 percent protein. Their somatic cell count has been hovering at or below 78,000.
    “We aren’t doing anything special,” Nick said. “We’re just doing all of the basic things as best as we can. We make sure that the cows get a well-balanced TMR every day, and we bed the free stalls with fresh sand on a regular basis. We don’t have a magic formula.”
    In 2008, Moss’ sister Heidi and her husband, Alistair Hird, emigrated to South Dakota from England and purchased an acreage near Mossings Dairy. The Hirds raise all of the heifers born at Mossings Dairy through 6 months of age. When the heifers reach 6 months, they are sent to Heimes Brothers, a calf raiser located in Wynot, Neb. The heifers are brought back to Mossings Dairy at two months prior to calving. All of their bull calves are sold at birth.
    Nick and Mike each have farmsteads located not far from Mossings Dairy. Mike and his partner, Hannah, keep the far-off dry cows at their place. Nick and Megan house the close-up cows in a newly-expanded bedding pack facility on their acreage. Cows give birth at Nick and Megan’s farm and are then hauled one mile back to the dairy facility.
    Despite all of these changes, one thing has remained the same.
    “We still don’t own any land other than our acreages where our homes and the dairy is located,” Moss said. “We still buy all of our haylage and corn silage from local farmers.”
    During the past decade, the Jopson family has become a part of their local community.
    “When we get done with the silage chopping, we hire the Flandreau football team to help us cover the silage pile,” Nick said, noting they put up 15,000 to 20,000 tons of corn silage each fall. “We fill the boys up with pizza and give the team a contribution. Everybody wins.”