How important is vaccination?

babbychickens

Chirping
Dec 4, 2018
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Redland Bay, QLD, Australia
I'm a first time chicken owner with 3 bantam chicks. I live on 2 acres however they will be confined to a 5m x 12m pen when they are ready to live outside. The people next door own a range of birds such as guinea fowl, geese, and turkeys which our pen is fairly close to. Their dogs have fleas meaning that they don't give them treatments for that so I'm not sure if any of their animals are vaccinated or anything. They would not have direct contact but should I still be worried? We will be moving away from this into the suburbs in about 9 months where vaccines will most likely not be needed so I'd rather avoid the cost if I can.
 

ChocolateMouse

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So vaccinations are a weird thing. The thing about chicken vaccinations, is that most don't prevent your birds from catching the disease they only prevent the symptoms, and they're only about 90% effective. (This is especially true of the Mareks vaccine which drops in effectiveness a small amount yearly.)

Which means that if your birds catch something, you'll never know it, they might get other birds sick, and you might loose some of yours anyhow. But the rest will live happy long lives, shedding potentially large amounts of pathogens.

Now if these are dearly beloved (and isolated!) pets with good biosecurity, that might be worth it for you. You guarantee that at least some of your beloved babies live even if they get sick, AND you take substantial measures to make sure they don't infect other people's birds, this may be a legitimate option for you.

For me, I would always rather know if my birds are sick or not. I would rather burn my whole coop to the ground, wait 2 years, then start again, or breed for resistance, if something that bad got into my soil and flock. If these are beloved pets, this kind of mass culling might not be a good option for you, but if you want eggs or food this might be a reasonable way to manage your flock.

(As an aside, most human vaccines do NOT work this way, they actually kill the pathogen in the body. Most chicken vaccines do not kill the pathogen, only prevent symptoms.)

So this is a personal choice based solely on how you value your animals, how you view disease resistance, the individual vaccine, and why you want your birds.
 
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Pyxis

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I've already bought them unvaccinated. Do you know how much it would cost to get it done at a vet? They are almost a week old.

I believe the Marek's vaccine is the vaccine you're talking of. Unfortunately, it must be done when they are a day old to have full effect. And as was said, it doesn't stop them from getting Marek's, it just (usually) stops them from having symptoms.
 

babbychickens

Chirping
Dec 4, 2018
32
41
54
Redland Bay, QLD, Australia
So vaccinations are a weird thing. The thing about chicken vaccinations, is that most don't prevent your birds from catching the disease they only prevent the symptoms, and they're only about 90% effective. (This is especially true of the Mareks vaccine which drops in effectiveness a small amount yearly.)

Which means that if your birds catch something, you'll never know it, they might get other birds sick, and you might loose some of yours anyhow. But the rest will live happy long lives, shedding potentially large amounts of pathogens.

Now if these are dearly beloved (and isolated!) pets with good biosecurity, that might be worth it for you. You guarantee that at least some of your beloved babies live even if they get sick, AND you take substantial measures to make sure they don't infect other people's birds, this may be a legitimate option for you.

For me, I would always rather know if my birds are sick or not. I would rather burn my whole coop to the ground, wait 2 years, then start again, or breed for resistance, if something that bad got into my soil and flock. If these are beloved pets, this kind of mass culling might not be a good option for you, but if you want eggs or food this might be a reasonable way to manage your flock.

(As an aside, most human vaccines do NOT work this way, they actually kill the pathogen in the body. Most chicken vaccines do not kill the pathogen, only prevent symptoms.)

So this is a personal choice based solely on how you value your animals, how you view disease resistance, the individual vaccine, and why you want your birds.

They will be isolated from all other animals (except for our dog occasionally) so the risk of infecting other people's birds isn't really a factor.

I live in Australia and don't know what diseases affecting chickens we have here and therefore don't know which ones to vaccinate them for.

Are there any diseases that you know of that can be picked up from anything besides other chickens/birds?

We have them as pets but would also like the eggs so if they got sick but they were still able to lay eggs could we eat those eggs without getting sick ourselves?
 

ChocolateMouse

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They will be isolated from all other animals (except for our dog occasionally) so the risk of infecting other people's birds isn't really a factor.

I live in Australia and don't know what diseases affecting chickens we have here and therefore don't know which ones to vaccinate them for.

Are there any diseases that you know of that can be picked up from anything besides other chickens/birds?

We have them as pets but would also like the eggs so if they got sick but they were still able to lay eggs could we eat those eggs without getting sick ourselves?

Unfortunately diseases like mareks, newcastle, etc can be carried on clothes for days or weeks and live in the soil for months or years. That's why biosecurity matters. Have a specific pair of shoes you wear out with your chickens and nowhere else. If you know your chickens are sick, it's worth considering a separate long jacket as well. If you have people visitors who have contact with other flocks, a simple bleach water bath for their shoes and a request that they change outer clothes (jackets/shirts especially) between handling their birds and yours will go a long way unless you feel 100% confident that their birds are healthy.

There's not many zoonotic diseases in birds. I would say the most relevant vaccine you could get would be salmonella. I don't know about in Australia but in the UK/Europe they have a VERY effective salmonella vaccine. Almost all the chickens get it over there and not only are they healthier but they are less likely to get you sick from handling them or eating the raw eggs. Almost anything under the sun can carry salmonella but the most common sources are birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians. The US has a similar-but-not-quite-the-same vaccine that really needs to be more popular.

Your government should have information for you in their department of agriculture (or whatever it's called over there) about what chicken diseases are most prevalent in your area and what kinds of vaccines/treatments are available for them. Either way, biosecurity always matters and chicken shoes are one of the best ways to keep not only your own birds safe but other flocks too.

If they get sick with a non-zoonotic condition like Mareks you can eat the eggs as long as you're not trying to treat the symptoms with any medication. However if a chicken starts to show signs of something like Mareks it can be a slow, painful decline and you probably won't be getting any eggs from that chicken again as symptoms show of course. A chicken who is symptomatic of anything won't be laying much. A vaccinated chicken who is a carrier with no symptoms should lay pretty normally and have safe eggs to eat.
 

babbychickens

Chirping
Dec 4, 2018
32
41
54
Redland Bay, QLD, Australia
Unfortunately diseases like mareks, newcastle, etc can be carried on clothes for days or weeks and live in the soil for months or years. That's why biosecurity matters. Have a specific pair of shoes you wear out with your chickens and nowhere else. If you know your chickens are sick, it's worth considering a separate long jacket as well. If you have people visitors who have contact with other flocks, a simple bleach water bath for their shoes and a request that they change outer clothes (jackets/shirts especially) between handling their birds and yours will go a long way unless you feel 100% confident that their birds are healthy.

There's not many zoonotic diseases in birds. I would say the most relevant vaccine you could get would be salmonella. I don't know about in Australia but in the UK/Europe they have a VERY effective salmonella vaccine. Almost all the chickens get it over there and not only are they healthier but they are less likely to get you sick from handling them or eating the raw eggs. Almost anything under the sun can carry salmonella but the most common sources are birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians. The US has a similar-but-not-quite-the-same vaccine that really needs to be more popular.

Your government should have information for you in their department of agriculture (or whatever it's called over there) about what chicken diseases are most prevalent in your area and what kinds of vaccines/treatments are available for them. Either way, biosecurity always matters and chicken shoes are one of the best ways to keep not only your own birds safe but other flocks too.

If they get sick with a non-zoonotic condition like Mareks you can eat the eggs as long as you're not trying to treat the symptoms with any medication. However if a chicken starts to show signs of something like Mareks it can be a slow, painful decline and you probably won't be getting any eggs from that chicken again as symptoms show of course. A chicken who is symptomatic of anything won't be laying much. A vaccinated chicken who is a carrier with no symptoms should lay pretty normally and have safe eggs to eat.

Thank you very much!
 

ChocolateMouse

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Jul 29, 2013
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NP. I hope I've given you the info to make an informed choice. The vaccines for conditions like Mareks aren't a bad thing and have their uses, especially with regards to pets, they just need to be used with full knowledge of what effects they have. It's very unfortunate that not all chicken vaccines end up preventing infection and spread or I'd advocate for all of them all the time.

If you like your birds and a vaccine reduces the infection/spread of a condition substantially (70% or more is about the threshold for me, but I have livestock not pets) that shows up in your area, get it. Pretty much no reason not to.
 

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