Do backyard breeders vaccinate?


10 Years
Mar 7, 2009
Portland, OR
So I'm venturing into incubating eggs. I'm wondering if I should vaccinate my chicks for things such as Marek's disease. I plan to sell most of my chicks and I know the big nurseries vaccinate. Is this something only hatcheries have access to?
If you do vaccinate or if you don't I'm interested in hearing why. If you vaccinate your chicks where do you get the serum from?

I recommend you talk to your county extension agent about this. They will know what diseases and strains of diseases are prevalent in your area, where you can get the vaccines or services you need, and what's involved in giving the vaccinations. Tell them how you plan to manage the chickens. If you plan to show them or go to chicken swaps where they are exposed to a lot of other chickens, I would highly recommend fowlpox and Marek's, but let your extension agent tell you which others. Are you going to have a closed or open flock? That may help against certain diseases but it is almost impossible to keep wild birds away and they can spread certain diseases. Talk to your local agent.

I set up my vaccination plan after talking to the county extension agent's office and the veterinarian they referred me to at no charge. My plan will be different than yours, even if we were to plan to manage the flocks the same as the diseaes are different. For example, the most prevalent strain of Marek's here primarily attacks the legs and sometimes wings. In certain parts of California, the prevalent strain of Marek's primarily attacks the neck. Both kill.
I had a case of Mareks last year and it is extremely difficult to get rid of. I have disinfected the entire chicken area, including the ground, but as a precaution I now vaccinate for Mareks. I do as close to 1 day old as possible but in cases where I will have chicks hatching several weeks in a row, I wait until I have them all out. It is pretty easy to do and well worth it in my opinion.
Its a fact of poultry keeping that every flock is going to have Mareks, and vaccinations aren't always 100% effective. That being said, its usually not cost effective for small backyard breeders to vaccinate.
Sounds like more research is needed on my end. I have no idea how to contact my county extension agent. It can't be that hard though. I'm just not big on contacting "authorities" on any subject. I will be adding to my mixed flock over time, so I guess that makes me an open flock keeper. My other hens are from hatcheries and were vaccinated. But I want to do right by the chicks I'll be hatching.

Thanks all,
I vaccinate, and it is very affordable. Yes, the bottles come in doses of 1000, but it's still only about $16. It's cheap even if most of it is wasted. Replacing one layer that died of Marek's could easily cost more than the 1000 doses.
I have had a problem with Mareks disease and lost a couple of birds every month or so. I tried to vacinate the new chicks I hatched at 1 day old. They are doing fine so far, but the vacine was so expensive (I bought it online) and it was only good for 2 hours. . . I had only 20 chicks hatch. Since I had to throw the rest of the vacine away It was too expensive to continue. I have a couple of Banties setting on eggs and I am afraid of loosing them too. I have about 10 large hens of different breeds left and about 20 banties. Do I have to kill all of the old chickens and start over? is it in the chicken coop too? My chicken coop is 24 ft x 21 ft enclosed and an outside yard 150 ft by 40 ft fenced and covered with net. Not sure what to do! Help please.
Penny Smith, Plymouth Ca.

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