I had an instance where Marek's wiped out a small flock a couple of years ago. At the time, I only had 4 or 5 chickens - predators got 2 infected chickens while I was trying to figure out what was going on (raccoons took them near dusk before they were put away), 2 died on property and were immediately buried/composted, and 1 went to the vet while still alive to be euthanized and necropsied (the first to show illness). Ever since, I've vaccinated chicks to avoid them being infected again, but honestly would like to get away from vaccinating them if it isn't necessary.
Since the marek's, I removed the coop from the property after cleaning it (there are actually non-vaccinated chickens living it it at another location - not mine) and have had some top soil brought in to level the ground where the coop and run once sat. My new coop (2+ years later) sits basically in the same area, on top of the new soil. New coop is largely open air (cattle panel coop, but it has a huddle box in it (with only a hardware cloth roof, so plenty of ventilation). I guess my question is on thoughts about using non-vaccinated chickens going forward. With only a handful of chickens 2.5 years ago that were infected and immediately removed upon death, I can't imagine there was widespread infection + time passage. The fact that chickens are living in the old coop (which was basically enclosed all around and ventilation along the roof) with no signs of illness also gives me hope of moving away from vaccination.
I'm probably going to try a batch of unvaccinated chicks soon (edit - definitely not trying unvaccinated chicks - mental lapse... my bad), but would hate to sentence them to the marek's ordeal. I suspect that it's fine to stop vaccinating and move forward and that I'm being overly cautious, but what can you do. Thoughts?
Edited by 0wen - 4/20/16 at 2:37pm