Can Adult Birds be vaccinated for Mereks?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jdoane, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. jdoane

    jdoane Songster

    Aug 7, 2013
    Western Massachusetts
    It's looking like we will have one empty spot in our little flock. I am considering whether to add an older pullet or hen either this fall before it gets too cold or next spring (realistically it would be next spring). I'd be open to an older hen whose family is rehoming because of decreased laying or what have you. But I am also considering not adding but just not having a full little flock. Really still in the exploring phase.

    One of my big concerns is whether I can find a bird that has already been vaccinated for Mereks. My other 4 have been and I don't want to introduce a bird which hasn't. I understand the whole quarantine and introduction to the flock issue. But my big question is - can an older pullet or hen be vaccinated? And if someone tells me that their birds have been vaccinated - would there be a harm in revaccinating???

    Other question after I get the important Mereks question out of the way.... I know the recommendation is to try to introduce another chicken with a pal (so at least two at a time) so they have a buddy. How hard and fast is this recommendation? Since I could only add 1 then if it is destined not to work because there's not room for a "pal" I would just not do it.

    Would appreciate thoughts on either of these questions.
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Mareks vaccine only works on day-old chicks. It prevents the virus from causing tumors; it doesn't prevent infection. Introducing birds from other flocks is always a risk, as Mareks disease isn't the only issue. Hope you find some healthy hens, or raise chicks in spring. Mary
  3. Haunted55

    Haunted55 Songster

    Feb 15, 2012
    Central Maine
    Yes you can vaccinate older birds and get good results. The new recommendations are for 2 vaccinations of Marek's vaccine with the Rispens being the most sought after. Unfortunately, we at home, can only get the MD-Vac which is turkey Marek's vaccine. Which is better than nothing.

    Now, that being said...if you are looking at a bird who is over a year old, chances are you don't need to vaccinate, as the bird has already been exposed to the virus. If it were me, as I have a very virulent strain that went through here last year, I would revaccinate anyways. That's me. You need to make your own choices with this. There is so much still to be learned about Marek's and how it reacts to certain things, like revaccination, that if you've already got it there, anything is worth a shot. Even giving an older bird the vaccination, It is only going to strengthen the bird's immune system against this disease. Please check out the link I'll give you below. Also do your own searches on the revaccination of older birds. As science moves forward, they are discovering what some of us have already learned through trial and error. Either through the use of the vaccine or running turkeys with your chickens, re-exposure to the turkey Marek's, either way, has great benefits for our chickens.
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