Family With YouTube Following Named OSI 365 Farmers
A family of dairy farmers in Poland with deep community ties and thousands of social media followers are the newest members of our Sustainable 365 Farmer Recognition Program. OSI selected Ryszard and Maria Snela for the program, which recognizes exemplary farmers in our supply chain for their commitment to animal welfare and to sharing best practices with their community, whether in person or their popular social media feeds.
One of the key objectives of our program, which already includes three beef farming families in Australia, is to facilitate idea sharing, so farmers and partners throughout our supply chain can learn from each other and improve the overall sustainability of our industry. The Snelas have long demonstrated their eagerness to explore and adopt the latest technologies, research and best practices and have three decades of lessons from their sustainability journey to share.
The Snela's Sustainability Journey
The Snela's journey began in 1989 when Ryszard inherited a 17-hectare farm from his parents. Until 2014, Ryszard ran the farm much like his parents had: His 86 cows were tied in their barns. This practice is referred to as tethering, and although the practice can be used to protect animals from injury, it also restricts the animals' movements and can reduce their ability to express natural behaviors. In an effort to boost production and improve animal welfare on his farm, Ryszard began researching alternative processes and technologies, even traveling to Germany and the Netherlands to find out more. After exploring his options, he decided to purchase another 100 hectares of land to accommodate a storage shed and storage silos and a state-of-the-art cowshed that would transition the farm away from tethering and allow all the cows freedom of movement. The change achieves a key sustainability outcome of the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability: “All animals have access to loose housing by 2030.”
The structure was equipped with 16 fans and sprinklers to keep it cool during the warm summer months and distinct spaces for the cows to walk, deliver their calves, and lie down. The lying area was made with sodium rubber softeners and topped with sawdust to keep the area comfortable and dry. It was also equipped with an automated system that bathes the cows' hooves after milking and helps maintain their critical hoof health and check-ups and hoof corrections twice a year. The cows' diet was also switched to a mix of corn, fodder, straw, beet pulp, spent grain and feed additives — all from the Snela's farm — which the cows access through grids.
Together, these changes, along with an increase in the number of cattle on the farm, have boosted production from 150 liters of milk a day in 1989 to 12 thousand liters of milk a day today. They have also made the Snelas leaders in their farming community. They regularly open their facilities to students, training groups and fellow farmers looking for information and guidance and offer agricultural services to their community. They also allow the wider world to look into their operations through an active Facebook feed that provides updates on projects and pictures of daily life on the farm and a YouTube channel, where they share mesmerizing videos of farm life set to music with over 120,000 followers.
Far from becoming complacent with their recent success, the family continues to dream and strive. To stay up to date on the latest agricultural and sustainability best practices, they continue to visit factories, trade fairs and farms. They are already looking ahead to their next project: a 120/30-meter barn built to accommodate 120 milking cows and 400 calves.
Elevating Their Success Through 365
As OSI Sustainable 365 Farmers, the family will participate in OSI-facilitated idea-sharing with fellow farmers. The goal is for farmers throughout our supply chain to learn from one another, share what they learned with their networks, and ideally inspire others to implement some of the best practices that first put these exemplary farmers on OSI's radar.
We launched the global program in 2019 to spotlight and support farmers in our supply chain who exemplify our commitment to sustainable agriculture. We looked for suppliers excelling in distinct areas of impact — animal welfare, farm management, environment and community— and have named three beef farming families in Australia.
The Snelas represent the first 365 farmers in Europe but will eventually be joined by others. OSI is working to recognize farmers from each of our supply chain categories (beef, poultry, pork and vegetables) in each of our regions (Australia, Europe, USA, India and Asian markets).
We have mobilized our supply chain team to recognize producers in their respective regions to help us scale the program across OSI’s global operations. Our ambition is to create a broad and representative network of sustainable farmers who can educate each other and guide OSI’s sustainability direction.
The program will also help us deepen the connection between our farmers and the vital work they do with the consumer-facing products they enable. The Snelas already do so much to strengthen that connection through their open doors and personal videos. We’re thrilled to have them in our program and to help them increase their reach even further.