Feeling frustrated: brought Marek's into my flock


2 Dozen Chickens Past Normal!
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Dec 31, 2014
NE Missouri
No, Can't say that I did. But there is new stuff coming out every day and I read and read until my eyes crossed and my head spun around on my shoulders.

Like I said in my article. To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate is a very personal decision for a flock keeper. What is right for me may not be right for anyone else.

I will say this. If I didn't bring vaccinated chicks into my flock, I wouldn't be able to bring any new chicks into my flock. Vaccinated chicks have allowed me to have the bantams I so badly wanted and while my Egyptian Fayoumis are genetically resistant to MD, I had them vaccinated anyway just as a precaution.

Granted I have not had time to read the whole article but from what I scanned I have already read from other sources. Vaccinating birds does not protect them from the virus. My vaccinated birds are carriers. They can shed the virus to unvaccinated birds. What the Marek's vaccine does is prevent the vaccinated bird from developing the secondary visceral tumors associated with the disease.

The jury is still out on whether or not the vaccine will lengthen the life span of my vaccinated birds or shorten it. I do know that my second and third generations of Silver Duck Wing bantams are showing no signs or symptoms of MD. Are the hens passing their vaccinated resistance to the visceral tumors to their offspring?

Considering that all my roosters are over a year old and roosters from my original flock succumbed between the age of one year to 18 months, things look hopeful.

Plus, vaccinating is not fool proof. The current example being what is happening with the covid vaccine. There will still be a degree of break through infections with any vaccine. Plus it is the very nature of Viruses to mutate. That is how they survive.

The answer is like I stated a personal one. How badly do you want to keep chickens? Are you willing to take your chances with unvaccinated birds or are you willing to take your chances with vaccinated birds. Only the individual chicken owner can answer that question.

Harmony Fowl

Jul 17, 2017
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.
Allowing birds to encounter the virus, survive or not, and letting the survivors reproduce is the route I've gone. None of my birds are vaccinated. I don't want birds reproducing who aren't passing on a genuine resistance, to whatever extent resistance is genetic. I hatch eggs from mostly my own birds and once a year from outside eggs to add a few new members to the flock and reduce inbreeding. I have, on occasion, even brought unvaccinated chicks in (both before and after I knew what I was dealing with.) Mostly, things go okay. Most of the chicks, more than 50%, survive. In this year's "big" hatch of 17 outside chicks (egg hatched here from birds not here) I got 8 boys and 9 girls, now 23 weeks old. I lost 2 boys to Marek's, processed 5 (so still alive and healthy at 16 weeks or older) and still have one. For the girls, I have lost two to Marek's, one to a freak accident and still have six. 4/17 is a little under 25%. Their story is probably not finished yet, in my flock, the first year seems to be the clincher, but that's hardly every chick dying. That's how it usually goes. It was interesting that speckled Sussex were named in particular as being susceptible to Marek's. The one time I did lose all the chicks, they were SS. All died of Marek's around POL with one survivor who was taken by a predator before she could recover or succumb. Unlike microchick, I don't feel like I've reached bottom yet. Things have gotten progressively worse since 2018, though they still aren't all that bad. Will there be a turning point where breeding hopefully resistant birds lowers the number of birds I lose each year, or will this continue on at random, or just get worse and worse? I reconsider Fayoumis every time I hear mention of them. I just can't justify to myself taking such a huge step back for my dual purpose flock by introducing such little birds! But the temptation is always there. I wish I had the space to really work on a pet project whereby I could introduce the Fayoumis into a small group and work on breeding larger birds resistant to Marek's, but I haven't got that sort of space now. Whatever goes into the flock goes into the entire flock. I have enough too small birds as it is.

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