The Ode Family

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Alex Ode is a farmer-member of Land O’ Lakes, Inc., and member of the 2018 YC Advisory Council. As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, he operates Royalwood Farms – located east of Sioux Falls, South Dakota – alongside his father, uncle and grandfather. They currently milk 340 Holstein cows in a double-eight parallel parlor three times a day, and house them in a six-row, sand-bedded free-stall barn. They also farm 800 acres of corn and alfalfa.

Alex has been married to wife Alicia for almost five years, and they currently have a 15-month old daughter named Ava. Alicia is a registered nurse at Vance Thompson Vision.

What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?           

I like working with my family and the animals, as well as seeing the joy and interest from children and community members during our annual open house, when they learn about a real dairy farm from knowledgeable sources.

I least like the current economic situation that the dairy industry is in and seeing all of the dairy farm sales around the country.

Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?           

Because I farm with my father and uncle, we all have little niches that we spend more time in. My father Gregg does most of the bookkeeping, as well as the feeding first thing in the morning. My uncle Doug takes care of breeding and reproductive protocol, as well as looking after the heifers. I find myself doing repairs, preventative maintenance, projects and helping with everything on the farm. When it comes to crop decisions, we all offer input and plan early in the winter/spring so decisions are made and field work can take place without wasting time.

How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?           

I think our farm’s business plan will change in the next 10 years specifically in that it will transition from my father and uncle to me. We will also have to keep looking at new technologies and ways to be more efficient, and improving practices for sustainability in the way we farm.

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?

I always keep a quote in my head from my grandfather (Robert Ode): “It’ll all come to pass” and “Think, think, think.” It took me a long time to finally understand those phrases, but now they are embedded in me and they help keep the calm during a storm. And at the end of the day, I also turn to prayer and thankfulness for everything that has been given and sacrificed to get where I am today.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?

If I weren’t a dairy farmer, I would have too much time on my hands. I would most likely be working in a field that is directly linked to dairy farming and finding a way to get involved with farming.