Are hatchery chicks more susceptible to Mareks than...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Cowgirl71, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    ... hatched-at-home chicks? Thank you! [​IMG]
  2. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Hmm, that's a good question that I do now know. I've only gotten so many hatchery chicks then quit, and a lot of them died or had problems later on, but I'm pretty sure none were Mareks related.

    Never had issues with home-hatched chicks though.
  3. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    I'm trying to decide whether or not to vaccinate the hatchery chicks I'll be getting in April. I raised 40 hatched-at-home chicks last year and didn't lose any to Mareks. I would think the hatchery chicks would be fine, unless they're exposed to whatever it is that causes it at the hatchery? [​IMG]

    Edited for spelling! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  4. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    I have nothing but hatchery stock and have had my birds for 4 years in several batches. No Marek's. No diseases at all, in fact. Hatchery birds have a bad rep, but I have always been thrilled with my birds. I have a few minor defects (slight crossbeak in a BR, small facial deformity in a BO) and they are certainly not show quality by any means, but they are good production birds. I don't hatch because I try to keep strictly female flocks, so any new birds that come in up to this point have come from hatcheries.
  5. Breac

    Breac Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2010
    I ordered from hatcheries for many years with no problems regarding Mareks. However, when I tried buying Frizzles from a backyard breeder, most of them passed away due to Mareks.

    Just to be on the safe side, I'd recommend getting the chicks vaccinated anyway. Most hatcheries do it pretty cheap, and it saves a lot of heartbreak if something does happen.
  6. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    Thanks for all the info!

    I've been researching Mareks a bit more and apparently it's spread by bits of feathers, dust, dander, etc. I have a few more questions:

    1 - Once a chicken has been vaccinated, does she remain a carrier for life?

    2 - Is it true that you can't raise vaccinated chicks and unvaccinated chicks together?

    3 - If I were to vaccinate my chicks and raise them in my brooder in the basement, then is it true that I can never put unvaccinated chicks in that brooder again without high risk of them getting Mareks?

    From what I've been reading, I don't think I'd need to worry about Mareks. They say as long as you're at least two miles away from other chickens you should be good. Wild birds can also be a problem, but between a high barn cat population and three brothers who love their bb guns, we have a very low wild bird population...

    Thanks for all the help! [​IMG]
  7. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    This is the best thread I have found:

    1. A vaccinated chick is not a carrier of Mareks.
    2. Yes, you can raise vaccinated and non-vaccinated birds together. It takes 10 days for vaccine to take effect, and during this time the chick should be quarantined to protect from exposure of Mareks.
    3. Your brooder is fine to use again. It should always be cleaned and sanitized between uses.

    Here is a copy of the "Doctor's Orders," from the Delaware Club newsletter. Dr. Julie is our vet.

    Dr. Julie
    Do you recommend vaccinating the flock? If so, which ones and at what ages?

    Poultry vaccines are, generally speaking, a better tool for managing disease that is already present in a flock than they are at preventing disease from getting into the flock. The best way to prevent disease from entering a flock is through good biosecurity, which we can talk about in more detail another time.

    One drawback to the use of vaccines in small flocks is the way that they are packaged and sold. Because most poultry vaccine is used by large commercial producers, it is packaged in hundreds or thousands of doses, which is not cost-effective or convenient for vaccinating small numbers of birds.

    For these two reasons, I emphasize biosecurity and good management practices over routine vaccination for backyard flock owners, with one exception – Marek’s disease vaccine.

    Marek’s disease is caused by a virus, and it is a very common, highly contagious disease of chickens worldwide. Apparently healthy, but infected birds can carry and shed the virus their entire lives. The virus is spread in feather dander and transmitted by inhalation. The infection can cause tumors, paralysis, and suppress the immune system of chickens that are usually older than three months. When Marek’s disease gets into a previously uninfected or unvaccinated flock, an epidemic can occur, killing up to 80% of the chickens. Once an infected bird enters a farm, the virus is usually there to stay, unless all of the birds are the removed, and the environment is decontaminated.

    Before Marek’s disease vaccine was introduced in the 1970’s, the disease had a major negative impact on U.S. poultry farms. Unfortunately, the disease still causes a lot of unnecessary suffering and death in backyard flocks whose owners aren’t aware of the nature of the problem or the availability of a vaccine. Marek’s disease vaccine does not prevent chickens from becoming infected with the virus, but it does reduce the amount of virus transmitted by infected birds, and it does a good job of preventing birds from developing illness.

    Marek’s disease vaccine is given to chicks prior to hatching (in-ovo) or to day-old chicks. If you purchase day-old chicks from hatcheries, I highly recommend that you ask the hatchery to vaccinate them for you before they’re shipped. Most will do this for a small charge. If you hatch your own chicks, you can purchase and administer the vaccine yourself; it is not difficult. It is frustrating that the vaccine usually comes in 1,000 dose vials and must be used on the day it’s mixed; that means that those of us who hatch a small number of birds will toss out a lot of unused vaccine. At about $20.00 per 1,000 dose vial, you’ll have to decide if it is cost-effective for you. One option would be to coordinate your hatches with other flock owners so that you can share the vial and share the cost.

    Other vaccines for fowl pox and a variety of poultry respiratory diseases are available, but I believe that these vaccines should be used only if a flock is experiencing a problem and a specific diagnosis has been made. Your veterinarian (if you can find one to treat poultry) or your state veterinary laboratory can help you with testing for flock problems. The most information can be gained from necropsies (post-mortems) of affected birds immediately after death.
    Dr. Julie
  8. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    Thanks so much for all the info Kathyinmo! [​IMG]

    So I would need to keep unvaccinated and vaccinated chicks separate for 10 days after the vaccination, but after that I can mix them and they'll be fine?

    I'm kinda leaning against vaccinating, because there's no way I'm gonna vaccinate my hatched-at-home chicks (because of the expense and I really hate needles), so there's really no point in vaccinating the hatchery chicks, unless they're for some reason more susceptible to Mareks???

    I guess I just don't think it will be a problem for me. I and my neighbor (who's a few miles down the gravel road) raised a couple hundred chicks last year and the year before - didn't vaccinate any of them - and didn't lose any to Mareks. Maybe we were just lucky, I don't know.

    If I later have a problem from not vaccinating, then I'll vaccinate. But I really don't think it'll be a problem... [​IMG]

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