Feeling frustrated: brought Marek's into my flock

Sahraschweiss

Songster
Apr 9, 2020
395
952
176
Wildwood, Missouri
Thank you @penny1960 for the tag.

I'm so sorry @Sahraschweiss that you have to deal with this. You are not along. I've dealt with Marek's in my flock for almost 6 years now and while it's heartbreaking, frustrating, infuriating and a few other choice words that I can't print but it ISN'T the end for keeping chickens.

Instead of going into depth with my experiences I'm going to invite you to read about them in my recently published article here on BYC:

Killer in the Shadows. How My Flock and I Learned to Deal With Marek's Disease​

https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-i-learned-to-deal-with-mareks-disease.76944/

If you have any questions feel free to ask. We help one another here on BYC. :hugs
Thank you!
 

Iluveggers

Free Ranging
Jun 27, 2021
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I am so sorry you are dealing with this. ❤️

I have a few questions for those of you more experienced with it. 1.Can you bring Mareks into a flock using only hatching eggs you hatch in an incubator? 2.Why should/shouldn’t a current flock owner vaccinate against Mareks?

Thanks for your anticipated shared knowledge.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
Hatching eggs won't carry Marek's disease, except if they are contaminated on the outside of the egg shells. Mycoplasma, however, can be transmitted to embryos inside the eggs.
And i think it's wise to have chicks vaccinated against marek's disease, in case it ever arrives in the flock.
Here, chicks raised from our own birds are not vaccinated, and any chicks bought from hatcheries are vaccinated there, and isolated long enough to develop immunity. So, if this disease ever arrives here, our unvaccinated birds will be the 'canaries in the coal mine', developing Marek's related illnesses first. So far, this has not happened, and I necropsy every bird who dies not related to predation.
Mary
 

Iluveggers

Free Ranging
Jun 27, 2021
2,389
7,982
596
NYS
Hatching eggs won't carry Marek's disease, except if they are contaminated on the outside of the egg shells. Mycoplasma, however, can be transmitted to embryos inside the eggs.
And i think it's wise to have chicks vaccinated against marek's disease, in case it ever arrives in the flock.
Here, chicks raised from our own birds are not vaccinated, and any chicks bought from hatcheries are vaccinated there, and isolated long enough to develop immunity. So, if this disease ever arrives here, our unvaccinated birds will be the 'canaries in the coal mine', developing Marek's related illnesses first. So far, this has not happened, and I necropsy every bird who dies not related to predation.
Mary
Thank you for your reply. If you get chicks vaccinated, can they be mixed with unvaccinated chicks or chickens? Is there a waiting period before mixing? Your reply is very helpful.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,378
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southern Michigan
Vaccinated chicks need to be isolated away from your coop, birds, and anything from the flock areas, so if Marek's virus is present at your place, these new chicks aren't exposed to it until they have built immunity, two weeks at least.
Then they can mix out there just fine. They do NOT spread Marek's, or infect anyone else, they are protected from developing the tumors that Marek's infected birds often die of, and will get infected in an infected flock.
Mary
 

aldarita

Songster
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Aug 2, 2012
670
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Brenham TX
Please don't cull all your flock. I am in the same situation you are, although not as bad. I have Mareks in my yard, I have been a chicken keeper for 9 years. I believe Mareks got in my yard by air since I've kept a closed flock from the very beginning buying only one day old chicks. Over the years I lost very few chickens (maybe a total of 4) that I suspect died of Mareks. My flock number goes up and down, never more than 25 and only a couple of roosters along the way. This Spring I had a horrible experience with my hatchery bought chicks, I purchased 3 Speckled Success and 4 Columbian Wyandottes. I made the terrible mistake of buying them unvaccinated (I don't know what I was thinking when I placed the order) I did pay dearly for this mistake since I had to cull 2 of the SS due to paralysis (Mareks). My 4 CW are fine, I even have one that lived with the 2 chicks with Mareks and she has never shown signs of the disease (knock on wood). I had to buy 3 more chicks so she would not be by herself. This time I made sure they were vaccinated. I know the vaccine is not 100% efficient but the immunity it provides is better than nothing. They might still get it but not so bad.
You need to continue to be a chicken keeper and do not despair, your living chickens are now carriers and they survived the spread of the disease, you might still have some more loses but hang in there, it is not the end. As you have been advised, keep a closed flock and always get vaccinated chicks. It is very tempting to get beautiful breeds from breeders around us, but be conscious now that you know Mareks is in your yard.
I have hens of different ages (one is 8 years old) and they go about their chickening business every day even with the presence of Mareks somewhere there.
You can read very sad stories of people having very nasty strains of the Mareks virus in their yards and losing most of their flocks, I believe this is not your case.
My hens are my pets, and like yours every one has a name and a personality, I don't want to lose them, I know it is a matter of time when they die because that is the nature of life itself.
 

aldarita

Songster
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Aug 2, 2012
670
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Brenham TX
I forgot to mention (as it has been in this thread posts) when you get vaccinated chicks you need to quarantine them for 3 weeks so they can create antibodies for the virus. I was very strict with my chicks' quarantine, I completely isolated them far away from the chicken yard, they were in a complete enclosed room, I changed shoes and clothes, washed hands, covered my hair, used Lysol, etc. It was a lot of work but I wanted to make sure they had a chance to fight.
 

Sahraschweiss

Songster
Apr 9, 2020
395
952
176
Wildwood, Missouri
I really don't know how quarantining vaccinated chicks will work for me. I have dogs and a two house chickens. One couldn't keep up with the flock. Found out she has a heart murmur. She is my husband's bff. The other one had a reproductive infection that we were able to treat, but she is now on birth control due to calcifications on her ovary.

Both girls get yard time away from the main flock but the areas are still super close. Both girls are from the original group. So they probably are carriers too.

I honestly think that I would be better off letting survivors breed for resistance.

I have 20 (1 rooster 19 hens) that are a year and a half, 3 (1cockerel 2 hens) that are 8 months, and 7 (4 cockerels and 3 pullets( that are 10 weeks.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,378
42,895
1,156
southern Michigan
You will still be better off getting vaccinated chicks, only if you have a dear friend who will raise them for their first three weeks. Can you order chicks with a friend, and have them raise the chicks, and then get yours?
I've often bought chicks in a combined order with nearby fellow chicken keepers, and then split the order in a few weeks. It's a win for all of us!
Mary
 

Sahraschweiss

Songster
Apr 9, 2020
395
952
176
Wildwood, Missouri
Thank you @penny1960 for the tag.

I'm so sorry @Sahraschweiss that you have to deal with this. You are not along. I've dealt with Marek's in my flock for almost 6 years now and while it's heartbreaking, frustrating, infuriating and a few other choice words that I can't print but it ISN'T the end for keeping chickens.

Instead of going into depth with my experiences I'm going to invite you to read about them in my recently published article here on BYC:

Killer in the Shadows. How My Flock and I Learned to Deal With Marek's Disease​

https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-i-learned-to-deal-with-mareks-disease.76944/

If you have any questions feel free to ask. We help one another here on BYC. :hugs
@microchick your article was very informative. While my experience hasn't been as severe as yours, it has been similarly painful and frustrating.

In your research, did you come across this study?
https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002198

What are your thoughts?
 

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