Rosalio "Leo" Fonseca
Rosalio "Leo" Fonseca

When a herd faces challenges, quick, decisive action is needed. Rosalio "Leo" Fonseca, weaned-pig specialist at New Fashion Pork in Alpha, Minn., knows the importance of good observation skills in identifying potential problems before they negatively impact pig health.

Fonseca directly oversees 25,000 pigs through the wean-to-finish phase. The 15-year pork production veteran was one of five winners in the ‘Honoring Pork Caregivers’ program, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health.

Fonseca and his wife, Martha, are an effective team in the barns. Their attention to detail allows them to notice even slight changes in the pigs. As a result, they are able to address problems early and get the response needed in a timely manner. The Fonsecas work together to ensure all pigs are in good health. In fact, they were able to take mortality rates in a flow of pigs from the highest in the company to the lowest.

"This husband-wife team exemplify high standards as evidenced by their sense of urgency in ensuring all needs - environmental, nutritional and health - are met for nursery pigs," says Deborah Murray, veterinarian for New Fashion Pork. "They have an eye for detail and know what mitigating actions are required to resolve any issue that arises in the production of full-value pigs."

Fonseca shares the credit for his efforts with others, acknowledging the people who have provided guidance, knowledge and new ideas to help the pork operation thrive. "We must work closely with veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies to maintain healthy herds for a quality pork product," he said.

Nearly 50 pork industry professionals representing production systems from across the United States were nominated for the ‘Honoring Pork Caregivers’ program, which was initiated this year to recognize individuals who consistently put forth the extra effort to exceed expectations. Winners received an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City and a $1,000 cash prize.

"We are pleased to recognize the winners for their vigilant pig care and their dedication to making positive improvements to on-farm practices," says Benjamin Church, Pfizer senior marketing communications manager. "They are helping ensure a high standard of herd health management for their respective operations and provide a benchmark for the industry."

For expanded profiles and photos of the 2012 ‘Honoring Pork Caregivers’ award recipients, click here.