Marek's Disease - How To Prevent Marek's Disease & Treat Your Chickens

When we all order a shipment of chicks from a hatchery, most offer optional vaccination for Marek's disease. You may have known nothing about the...
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Sep 18, 2013 · ·
  1. BYC Support
    Marek's Disease
    (written by Message Board member chickchair)

    When we all order a shipment of chicks from a hatchery, most offer optional vaccination for Marek's disease for a nominal charge. If you are like me, you may have known nothing about the disease and are wondering what the risks versus the benefits of having your chicks vaccinated are..
    I am posting links to information on Marek's to help you make a more informed decision.

    I, myself, have lost a chick to Marek's, and a close friend has just lost one as well. It is heart wrenching to watch the progression of this condition. It is not a treatable disease. If contracted, it will, in most cases, lead to the death of your bird. It is caused by a virus in the Herpes family, and as such..cannot be cured. Recovery is not impossible, but not likely.

    One thing I would like to add in regard to vaccinating your chicks is that one in perhaps 1000 chicks will contract the disease from the vaccination. This is similar to the chances of a child contracting the disease for which they've been vaccinated, such as Polio, measles, mumps, etc. This is what happened to my chick. I'd like to say that I have no regret having had them all now the rest of my flock have at least a modicum of protection from this nasty virus.

    Another thought you might ponder when you get your chicks at the feed store. Did they order from the Hatchery and if so...did they get the chicks vaccinated.... This is more information to lead you to a broad knowledge base regarding your chickens.

    Again...the info I'm including the links for is intended as a means for you to make an informed decision.

    May none of you ever see Marek's Disease in your flock.

    The Poultry Compendium

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Texas Kiki
    "Move to members pages"
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed Sep 19, 2018
  2. casportpony
    "Needs more details"
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed Aug 8, 2018
    Nothing in this that explains the different types of Marek's
  3. ronott1
    "Bad article"
    1/5, 1 out of 5, reviewed Jul 26, 2018
    Article has mostly false information about mareks disease


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  1. Clubber1234
    All my chicks have Mareks disease.
  2. kelly77
    How do they catch this? Is it something they are born with?
      Clubber1234 likes this.
  3. marthacolleen
    I can't tell you how horrible it is to have chicks infected with this disease - please don't ever buy from a web site called healthy chicks and more - they sent me 41 chicks all infected with Mareck's, and one by one, the neurological symptoms came on - no amount of care will save these poor birds. I had them in slings when they could no longer stand, hand feeding them every 15 minutes around the clock, to no avail. It is heartbreaking to anyone who truly cares about their flock. Again, everyone, BEWARE of the site called Healthy Chicks and More. It should be renamed Sick Chicks that will soon Die a Miserable Death, infecting your farm with Mareck's Virus.
      VHoff likes this.
  4. animallover009
    thanks for the info! im ordering my chicks soon and didn't know if vaccination was good or bad.
  5. matthew98
    all my rooster whATs to do is have his head hanging all the way to the ground is that marek's diease
  6. lizablair
    My turkey has been the "Dorm mother" to a flock of 35 including 7 roosters....every time the roosters would start a battle, Freda...the turkey...would come running and grab the aggressive rooster and chunk it by the neck across the yard...if he came back for battle she would grab him by his....genitallia area....and chunk him...usually this worked and her work was done.
      Is this Mareks disease?
  7. jadeybaby70
    BullardBarnyard, I believe that Marans are supposed to be more disease resistant.
    1. Haleyrbloom
      I am pretty sure my Splash Marans had it. Had to put her down : (
  8. ADozenGirlz
    'The Chicken Health Handbook' by Damerow contains a great section on Blackhead, which is also known as: histomoniasis or infectious enterohepatitis.

    One other point regarding your original post: when folks buy 'vaccinated' chicks at the feed store, it's important to ask WHICH VACCINE(s) were given. It should not be assumed that Marek's was given or that only one vaccine was administered. Chicks are often sold having been vaccinated for coccidiosis, which is important to know when buying new chicks as they should NOT be fed MEDICATED starter. Medicated starter and the cocci vaccine together will have the effect of rendering the chicks unprotected from cocci.
      KathryninQuebec likes this.
  9. BullardBarnyard
    Also, according to Gail, getting a turkey helps to prevent it, but increases the chance of something called Blackhead (might be called something different, but I'm not around my book right now.) if you know what it is could you message me or post an article on it? we are getting turkeys with our chickens and it would help to know if it would hurt them or anything. Thank you.
    P.S., We're getting 2 Turks to go with our 12 Chickens, if that helps. and Are any breeds more immune or weak to the blackhead/marek virus?........................ Thanks again. BB.
  10. ADozenGirlz
    According to Gail Damerow in 'The Chicken Health Handbook," 5% of vaccinated chicks get Marek's anyway. It's not from the vaccine itself, it's due to the fact that the virus is present in nearly every place chickens reside.

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