Dave Sjeklocha, DVM, was honored Friday at the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC) winter meeting with the AVC Consultant of the Year award, sponsored by Zoetis.
At an early age, Sjeklocha gained experience in heat detection, artificial insemination and bovine obstetrics from his rancher father, and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in animal sciences and His DVM degree from Kansas State University.
Sjeklocha practiced in Curtis, Neb., focusing on cow-calf herd health, then served as consulting veterinarian. Now he serves as the full-time staff veterinarian for feeding company Cattle Empire, headquartered in Satanta, Kan.
Sjeklocha has been heavily involved in animal welfare issues, serving as chairman for the Beef Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee for the AVC. Shortly after receiving his award during a conference luncheon, he took to the podium to give a presentation titled “Defining welfare issues in cattle feeding systems.” He advised attending veterinarians to help clients evaluate practices and processes to identify problems or opportunities to improve animal welfare. He focused on practices relating restraint, pain and death, saying veterinarians and their clients need to take a close look at practices ranging from pen cleaning, and chute operation through pain management during dehorning and castration and low-stress handling techniques. For now, he says, animal-rights activists are focused mostly on swine and poultry housing, feral horses, laboratory animals and circus animals. Cattle operations cannot be complacent though, and need to make sure their house is in order, Sjeklocha says.
The AVC Consultant of the year must be an AVC member who is active in beef cattle consulting or practice. Nominations highlight the applicant’s accomplishments in the practice of bovine medicine, the quality and competency of their veterinary service, activities in organized veterinary medicine and the beef cattle industry, relationships and contributions to the beef cattle industry, related activities and achievements that have impacted the fed cattle industry and the relationship with their veterinary peers, among other things.
The award consists of a plaque and a $2,000 scholarship donated to the veterinary school of the recipient’s choice.